Pierce County prosecutors on Thursday charged a 28-year-old Tacoma man with first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son.
Prosecutors allege Derrick Myers intentionally killed Terric Davis by striking him repeatedly in the chest and abdomen Tuesday.
They also filed an alternative charge of second-degree murder, alleging Myers killed the boy during an assault.
Not guilty pleas were entered on Myers’ behalf in Superior Court. Commissioner Meagan Foley set bail at $2 million.
Prosecutors also said Myers violated a position of trust in killing the boy, an accusation that could lead to a longer prison sentence for Myers if he’s convicted as charged.
Deputy prosecutor Phil Sorensen said outside court there appeared to be no pattern of abuse, but he was at a loss to provide a possible motive.
“The defendant’s given no explanation for what would have set it off, and we don’t have anything that indicates why that would have happened,” Sorensen said.
Myers and the boy’s 23-year-old mother lived together in an apartment in the 7600 block of Pacific Avenue.
Authorities said it was not uncommon for the woman to leave her son and a 2-year-old girl in Myers’ care while she worked.
The girl was placed in protective custody after Myers’ arrest.
On Tuesday, the mother left home about 3:40 p.m. to work a four-hour shift at her second job at a nearby store.
When she get off work that day, Myers sent her a text message saying the boy would need a bath because he “had made a mess of himself,” according to charging documents.
The mother found Terric on the bathroom floor complaining of stomach pain. He had vomited and was lethargic.
Myers went to take a nap while the mother cared for Terric, court records show. When the boy’s condition worsened, she took him to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital and Health Center.
The boy died 20 minutes after arriving at the hospital.
Doctors noticed signs of abuse, leading to Myers’ arrest.
An autopsy conducted Wednesday revealed significant stomach injuries that caused internal bleeding, a lacerated pancreas, a transected small bowel and numerous bruises, the records show. Medical examiners ruled the boy’s death a homicide.
Several people attended Thursday’s arraignment to support Myers but left court without talking to reporters.