A man accused of killing a 3-year-old Tacoma boy was charged Friday in the child’s death.
Mark Anthony Brown Jr., 26, initially was charged with child assault, but Pierce County prosecutors changed the charge to second-degree murder after Jeremiah Horton died from his injuries.
Brown pleaded not guilty to the murder charge Friday at arraignment, and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Horton died at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital on July 4, about a week after he was taken there. The Medical Examiner’s Office said blunt force injury to Horton’s head caused his death, and that it was a homicide.
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According to charging papers:
Brown watched Horton and his 4-year-old brother while their mother was at work.
When she got home in the early hours of June 26, she went to kiss the boys goodnight, and noticed something was wrong. Horton was stiff, and started to shake.
She woke up Brown, and they took the toddler to the hospital.
Doctors said the boy was unlikely to survive, and noted the trauma he suffered was the result of abuse — possibly from violent shaking or hitting a surface.
The child also had bruises on his thighs, some of which appeared to match Brown’s belt buckle, a detective said.
The 4-year-old said his brother got into trouble because he “pooped on himself,” and that Brown hit his brother with his belt.
Brown told investigators he did not hurt the child. He said the boy did poop in his pull-up, but that he had not been frustrated with the toddler.
He said he had made both children dinner, they watched a movie and he gave them baths. They went to bed about 9 p.m. June 25, several hours before their mother got home from work, he said.