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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Serial Abuser Accused of Beating His 5-Year-Old To Death

     At eleven in the morning of December 18, 2013, an official at the Pershing Elementary School in Pine Hills, Florida, a community of 60,000 near Orlando, asked Darell Avant to come to the school and take his son home. The principal had suspended the 5-year-old for kicking a teacher.

     Perhaps the unruly boy had learned his bad behavior from his father. Since 2003, the 26-year-old Avant had been arrested in Orange County 25 times for domestic violence and other crimes including assaulting a pregnant woman, drug possession, aggravated assault, and grand theft.

     At seven in the evening on the day Avant removed his son from the school, he called 911 to report that the boy was unconscious and wouldn't wake up. Twenty-five minutes after the emergency call, a member of the Orange County Fire and Rescue crew pronounced the boy dead at his father's apartment.

     In speaking to Orange County Sheriff's deputies, Avant said that after picking up his son from school, he spanked him and sent him to his room. Later that day, Avant punished the boy by making him do push-ups and squats. According to the father, after twenty minutes of this, the child became dizzy, collapsed and lost consciousness.

     Avant told investigators he tried to awaken his son by shaking and slapping him. When that didn't wake up the boy father called a friend who came to the apartment to resuscitate him. That didn't work either. Finally, Avant called 911. Avant didn't explain why he didn't call for professional help immediately after his son lost consciousness.

     Deputies at the apartment and officers at the morgue noticed fresh contusions and bruises on the boy's back, stomach, chest, and arms. His mother told detectives that when the child left for school that morning he did not have those injuries. It looked to investigators that the boy had been severely beaten.

     Police officers booked Avant into the Orange County Jail on charges of domestic violence and several lesser offenses. A social worker with the Department of Children and Families took the dead child's younger sibling into protective custody.

     On December 20, 2013, the medical examiner, following the autopsy, announced that the 5-year-old had died from multiple blunt-force trauma. The medical examiner ruled the death a criminal homicide. Shortly after the medical examiner's ruling, an Orange County prosecutor upgraded the charges against Darell Avant to first-degree murder. If convicted as charged Avant could be sentenced to death. The judge denied him bail.

     

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