Lee Willie DeJesus, 23, was arrested in Miami, Florida for allegedly beating up his 2 year old son, Willy Brown. According to news reports, DeJesus has a criminal history, but it is limited to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. It is unknown if the drug played a role in this case.
Regardless, a magistrate judge set bond at $57,000.
Police were initially called to DeJesus’ apartment when the boy became unresponsive. At first, DeJesus tried to blame the baby sitter. However, after being taken back to the police station, it alleged that investigators read DeJesus his Miranda rights, which he waived, and admitted to punching the toddler at least fifteen times.
At this point in time, it is unknown whether or not DeJesus has retained a private defense lawyer is intending on applying for representation by the Public Defender’s Office.
According to DeJesus, he put boxing gloves on the toddler’s hands and proceeded to punch the toddler approximately fifteen times in the chest, head and torso. DeJesus claims that he was trying to teach the 2 year old how to box.
The “boxing” allegedly lasted 15 minutes until the toddler was knocked off the bed and hit his head on the wall and floor as he went down. Police claim that DeJesus waited 30 minutes to an hour before calling police.
Since the toddler has succumbed to his injuries, DeJesus may be facing murder charges for killing the child.
Cases like these call for two levels of analysis. On the one hand, DeJesus’ actions are clearly reprehensible. Punching a two year old in the head, torso, and chest until he is knocked over is undeniably inappropriate. However, before conclusions concerning the extent of criminal liability can be made, many questions need to be answered.
First, how hard did DeJesus “punch” the toddler? Does the toddler have any outward signed of bruising, lacerations, or other marks? Or were they “play punches”?
Being more specific, defense lawyers must determine what caused the child to die. Did he die from the punches or did he die from falling on the floor and hitting his head? Or, in the alternative, did he die from a combination of the two?
If this case comes down to your typical “rough housing” gone bad, then DeJesus’ criminal liability may be lessened. Certainly any sentencing he may face should be mitigated.
However, if DeJesus truly beat the child up in a realistic “boxing” session and the boy has clear signs of being punched and beat up, then DeJesus has tremendous liability.
The autopsy of this child will be very telling. Ultimately, the most important aspect of this investigation will come down to the cause of death. Was it the punching or the fall or both?
It should also be recognized that even of the punching was minor and did not cause the death, but rather the boy died from hitting his head on the floor, DeJesus would still have criminal liability for knocking the child over.
However, this distinction makes a big difference legally. If DeJesus’ actions were truly innocent in nature, but resulted in the boy’s death, then the highest offense he may be liable for is manslaughter.
If DeJesus acted maliciously and genuinely beat the boy up in some maniacal “boxing” session, then he may be on the hook for first degree murder.
The difference between the two is obvious. Manslaughter is punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison. First degree murder is another story entirely.
Aside from causation, the other part of this case concerns DeJesus himself. If the evidence proves that DeJesus really did beat the toddler up in a realistic “boxing” match, then it is clear that he has serious mental health issues.
Any competent defense lawyer would have DeJesus evaluated by psychiatrists to make sure he is mentally competent to stand trial. If not, DeJesus’ case must be delayed until his mental competency can be restored, if at all.
Ultimately, if this case comes down to a vicious beating by a mentally competent person, DeJesus will have serious problems. If this is not so, DeJesus would benefit greatly by hiring a defense lawyer that knows how to break apart these types of cases and find the evidence that gives true meaning to what happened, thereby minimizing or possibly eliminating any criminal liability.
Regardless, we cannot forget about the baby that lost his life. This is a very sad story no matter what really happened because a person is dead as a result. I hope that the mother of this child is able to one day heal, at least somewhat, from the wound this death has caused.
My condolences go out to the family.