TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A 23-year-old Florida woman is accused of fatally striking a 3-year-old boy with a tire iron while he was brushing his teeth, court records show.
Te'Lea Jefferson was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder and aggravated battery.
She took the child, who was suffering from severe head trauma, to a Tallahassee hospital on Monday evening, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Doctors pronounced him dead and medical staff alerted police.
Jefferson initially told officers the child fell while standing at the sink, and struck his head on the toilet. But the injuries were not consistent with the scene Jefferson described, an arrest report said. The boy also had severe cuts on his face and hands, and bruises on his arms and legs. There were also signs of previous injuries on his shoulder and torso.
Jefferson lived at the home with the child, his 6-year-old brother and the boys' parent, with whom she was in a relationship with. Their names were not released, citing Marsy's Law, a voter-approved amendment to the state Constitution designed to protect victims.
She told investigators she sent the child to brush his teeth about 3:30 p.m. Monday, and tried to care for him for about 10 minutes after he “fell." Then she drove him to the hospital.
Investigators pointed out that her timeline didn't add up, and she admitted hitting him after ordering him to get down from the sink, the report said.
She said she was angered by his refusal to climb down from the sink, according to the arrest report.
“Jefferson said that she walked into the bedroom and retrieved the tire iron from a tool kit. She advised that she returned to the bathroom and threw the tire iron at (him), striking him upon the side of the face,” police said in the report.
She later told investigators that she hit him several times, including when he tried to run from her, the report said. She told investigators she then hid the tire iron somewhere outside the home.
She also admitted the boy was likely dead before she took him to the hospital, the arrest report said.
Jefferson told investigators that she had used physical force against the boy and his brought previously. She said she watched the boys while their parent worked, the arrest report said.
“She would indicate that (the 3-year-old boy) was stubborn and say that he often required more strikes or blows than his older sibling,” the report said.
The Florida Department of Children and Families is investigating previous incidents. The state agency has taken custody of the boy’s older brother, according to court records.
Jefferson is being held without bond in a Leon County jail. She told a judge during a first appearance hearing on Wednesday that she intends to hire an attorney to represent her.