Grandmother says 3-year-old died from 'extreme dehydration'

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Meghan McKeon

— After a court hearing Wednesday, the grandmother of 3-year-old Austin Davis disclosed she learned Austin died from "extreme dehydration."

Charity O’Konski, whose son is Austin's father, said she was briefed by the Steamboat Springs Police Department on Wednesday morning. Chief Joel Rae confirmed that a detective spoke with O’Konski. Rae said he could not confirm the cause of death because of a court order limiting pretrial publicity.

"The investigation is ongoing," Rae said, adding that more than 100 people have been interviewed.

Police believe Austin's mother, Meghan McKeon, might have left Austin home alone for four days. McKeon has been charged with two counts of felony child abuse resulting in death. She remains in custody with bond set at $250,000 and appeared in court Wednesday.

Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen told Judge James Garrecht that autopsy tests had been completed, but he did not disclose in court how Austin died. The Steamboat Pilot & Today on April 16 submitted a public records request asking for the autopsy records. The newspaper entered into litigation Wednesday with the Routt County Coroner's Office over the release of the records.

McKeon's preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 18. Garrecht said he typically likes to hold preliminary hearings within 90 days, but at the request of Routt County Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann, he allowed more time.

"This case has greater significance than a lot of the cases we see," Garrecht said.

The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is probable cause to have the case go to District Court, where felony cases are handled.

Garrecht asked McKeon if she was fine with a delayed preliminary hearing. She said she was and cried as she left the courtroom.

The two charges filed against McKeon are Class 2 felonies that carry presumptive sentencing ranges of between eight and 24 years.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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