A St. Paul man repeatedly choked and abused his girlfriend's children, leading to the death of a 3-year-old boy last week, according to charges.

Alontae K. Butts, 25, was charged Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court with one count of second-degree murder for the boy's death on Jan. 15.

Butts allegedly told the police several stories about the boy's injuries, saying that the toddler had whipped himself with a cellphone charger, possibly suffered a seizure and struck his head on the toilet and that the toddler and his brother were playing with a punching bag that fell on him.

"When told he was going to be charged with murder and that [the boy] deserved justice, Butts said, 'I do, too. I did more than his read dad did,' " the complaint said.

Butts allegedly told police that he was the children's primary caregiver.

According to the complaint against Butts: The boy's mother called 911 after finding him not breathing about 4 p.m. Medics transported him to Children's Hospital, where bruises were found "all over" his body. He was in cardiac arrest, and died shortly after.

The boy's 6-year-old brother told police that the toddler became ill on the evening of Jan. 14 and vomited. He said that Butts choked his mother and all three children in the family, and stomped on the toddler with his feet.

Butts allegedly choked and punched the children in the face when they cried.

"[The brother] said butts chokes them to knock them out — so they'll go to sleep," the complaint said.

The boys' 2-year-old sister was found to have a healing laceration on her head, a bruise on her cheek, an enlarged liver, a liver laceration and abdominal distention and tenderness.

The toddler's mother and grandmother, who lives with the family, told police that the 3-year-old complained about stomach pain in the evening of Jan. 14, vomited and complained of thirst.

Butts discovered the boy unresponsive in the bathroom the next afternoon, and alerted the boy's mother. Butts later allegedly tried to discredit the 6-year-old by noting to police that the boy is autistic.

An autopsy showed that the toddler suffered from multiple traumatic injuries including generalized brain swelling and a perforation in the small intestine.

Chao Xiong • 612-270-4708

Twitter: @ChaoStrib