• Father charged with first-degree murder in 5-year-old son's death

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    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County sheriff's investigators charged a father with first-degree murder in the death of his 5-year-old son, WFTV found out Friday.

    Darell Avant Sr. was arrested after his son, Darell Avant Jr., was found dead in his Burroughs Court home Wednesday evening in Pine Hills.

    His son had been suspended from school earlier that day.

    Initially, Avant told investigators he punished the boy with exercises, causing him to pass out.

    They now believe it was a rouse to cover up a brutal beating revealed by an autopsy.

    "The doctors feel this was a beating that took a long period of time," said Det. Kevin Wilson of the Orange County Sheriff's Office. "According to the doctors and his biological mother, he did not have wounds earlier in the day."

    The court ordered that the Avant's younger son be placed with the child's mother. The 1-year-old witnessed the incident in the Pine Hills home, authorities said.

    "He needs to pay for what he did to my son," said Avant Jr.'s mother, Jessica Phillips.

    Avant tried to keep his head down in court Friday.

    The 26-year-old went before a judge who stripped custody of his 1-year-old son, just two days after investigators said he beat his 5-year-old boy to death.

    "It's our understanding that the father was caring for the 5-year-old and the 1-year-old at the time the incident occurred," said Department of Children and Families spokesperson Kristi Gray.

    The Department of Children and families is looking into whether his other child suffered abuse as well.

    "The court felt it was necessary to take a closer look at that child," said Gray.

    It's all too much to take for the young victim's mother.

    "You're wrong for what you did to him. He did not have to go through this," Phillips said.

    According to the arrest report, Avant told deputies his son began to complain that he was hot and his feet hurt. Avant said he sent his son to take a shower.

    The report said that when his son came out of the shower, the boy became dizzy and fell to the floor.

    Avant told deputies the child was breathing and that he slapped his face to try and wake him. He said he then picked his son up and rocked him in an attempt to wake him.

    According to the report, Avant then used a Google search for information on "rolling eyes in back of head." He then called a friend who arrived and began performing CPR. Avant then called 911.

    In the arrest report, a deputy said he saw injuries on the boy's body "which were multiple bruises and contusions on the upper torso, abdomen, arms, and back."

    Avant is being held in the Orange County Jail on an additional charge of child abuse. The arrest report said he is a repeat offender and has a history of domestic violence.

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