TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) — The Tallahassee Police Department says the woman accused in the death of a 3-year-old boy hit him repeatedly with a tire iron.
Officers were called to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital’s emergency room around 7 p.m. Monday after medical staff found severe trauma on the boy’s face and head, the arrest affidavit says. TPD’s affidavit says the victim was pronounced dead at 7:04 p.m.
Te’Lea Jefferson told responding officers the boy fell after standing on the sink while brushing his teeth, the affidavit says.
Jefferson claimed the toilet broke in the boy’s fall, and broken pieces of porcelain caused the boy’s cuts, the affidavit says. Officers learned Jefferson is in a relationship with one of the boy’s parents, and she stayed home five times a week to care for the boy, according to the affidavit.
Two officers interviewed Jefferson on video after she decided to waive her Fifth Amendment rights.
“Based upon Jefferson’s timeline of events, she would have arrived at [TMH] at about 4:00 p.m. As noted, it was nearly 7:00 p.m. when she actually arrived at the emergency room,” the affidavit says.
The affidavit then says after officers confronted Jefferson with the three-hour gap in her story and that the injuries were inconsistent with the fall she described, she admitted to using a metal tire iron to hit the boy several times.
When officers asked Jefferson if she used physical punishment on the boy before, she said he was stubborn and “often required more strikes or blows than his older sibling,” the affidavit says.
TPD says it is investigating previous incidents of abuse with the Department of Children and Family Services.
Jefferson faces charges of murder and aggravated child abuse, TPD says.
At her first appearance in court Wednesday, the judge ordered Jefferson to be held without bond and scheduled another court appearance for Thursday morning after Jefferson told the judge she wanted to hire a private attorney rather than be assigned a public defender.
Public Defender Nancy Showalter said she had talked to Jefferson and her mother, and even though Jefferson qualifies financially for a public defender, the family would rather hire its own attorney.
Jefferson is scheduled to appear in court again Thursday morning.