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Man pleads guilty in beating death of 2-year-old after ‘accident’ on bed

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A Jacksonville toddler died after being struck with a plastic coat hanger until it broke because the 2-year-old girl had an “accident” on the bed of her mother’s boyfriend.

Jamarius Devonti Graham used a belt and hangers in the past to teach the girl potty training — she had already been spanked an estimated 20 times — says a newspaper report.

The Duval County state attorney’s office confirmed a medical examiner’s report, spokesman David Chapman told FloridaPolitics.com Tuesday.

On April 21, 2016, Graham was baby-sitting Aaliyah Lewis when the incident occurred. After the mother discovered injuries to her daughter, she and Graham waited 90 minutes before seeking medical attention for Aaliyah, even after her breathing became labored, according to the Florida Times-Union. The newspaper had cited a report by the Department of Children and Services (DCF) about the episode.

Graham, 21, pleaded guilty in a Jacksonville courtroom to aggravated child abuse in connection to Aaliyah’s beating death and faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if found guilty, Chapman said.

“The girl, whose body was tattered with fresh bruises and lacerations, was dead when she arrived at UF Health Jacksonville,” the Times-Union article said. “An autopsy found that she had multiple traumatic injuries to her head, torso and extremities, as well as fluid and swelling in her lungs and brain. But the Medical Examiner’s Office could not determine the cause of death.”

The couple had apparently communicated multiple times by phone throughout the day Aaliyah died, according to the report, the newspaper said. They spoke around midday, too, and Graham told the mother he had disciplined Aaliyah for the accident on the bed, assuring the mother he hadn’t been too harsh on the toddler.

But the mother had noticed during a video phone call that Aaliyah was crying.

When Graham picked her up from work, she noticed marks on the child’s chest, the newspaper said. She scared to seek medical attention for fear of the state taking her daughter away, she apparently told investigators.

No charges have been filed against the child’s mother, the Times-Union reported.

FloridaPolitics.com tried to contact a representative from DCF, but did not immediately receive a response before the publishing of this article.

Les Neuhaus is an all-platform journalist, with specialties in print reporting and writing. In addition to Florida Politics, he freelances as a general-assignment and breaking-news reporter for most of the major national daily newspapers, along with a host of digital media, and a human rights group. A former foreign correspondent across Africa and Asia, including the Middle East, Les covered a multitude of high-profile events in chronically-unstable nations. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which he served as a Security Policeman, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in political science. He is a proud father to his daughter and enjoys spending time with his family.

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