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| Crime |

Darnell Alvarez Beat His 2-Year-Old Son to Death With a Belt, Cops Say

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A 24-year-old Phoenix man beat his 2-year-old son to death with a belt while the child's mother failed to act before her child's death, police say.

Darnell Alvarez, and Davieanna Blake, the child's parents, left their child to die instead of getting medical attention, fearing that Child Protective Services would be called if they took him to the hospital, according to court documents obtained by New Times.

Phoenix police and fire responded to the couple's apartment on Wednesday to treat the child, but he was pronounced dead after being taken to a hospital.

A witness told police he heard Alvarez "giving discipline" for the child wetting the bed. He only heard this discipline, but also heard him spanking his son again that afternoon.

"He described the discipline as excessive," a probable-cause statement says.

Blake, 21, said Alvarez hit their son about five times with the belt that morning for wetting the bed.

"She did not intervene because she did not want to upset Darnell any further," the probable-cause statement says.

Blake went to work, and the witness who told police about the incidents also informed Blake that Alvarez had given the "discipline" to the boy while she was gone.

Blake saw the child was bruised and lethargic, and said she wanted to take the boy to the hospital, but Alvarez didn't want CPS involved.

"During this discussion the child cease[d] breathing and became completely unconscious," the probable-cause statement says.

Blake insisted to police that her son had no bruises when she left for work, and "Darnell is the one that administers discipline in the family," according to court documents.

Alvarez admitted to striking the boy twice with a belt in the morning for wetting the bed, and hit him twice again in the afternoon after defecating in his underwear.

"The child dropped to the floor and attempted to roll away," the probable-cause statement says. "Darnell continued to follow the child, striking him repeatedly as the child continued to follow the child, striking him repeatedly as the child continued to try to get away."

The boy wouldn't eat later, and according to the court documents, "Darnell stated he may have been heavy handed when disciplining the child."

Alvarez said he only hit the child with the belt, and nothing else, and said it was "his fault" that his son died, according to the documents.

In the boy's autopsy, he was found to have a lacerated liver, internal bleeding, and bruising all over his body -- injuries that are consistent with being struck with a belt, according to the documents.

Both Alvarez and Blake were booked into jail on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. Alvarez's bond was set at $500,000, and Blake's was set at $250,000.

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Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

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