A 5-year-old Philadelphia boy who died after allegedly being tortured during homework lessons lost his life, in part, because he could not pronounce the word “sad,” Philly.com reports.
Dashawn Harris was punched or suffered a belt-lashing by his mother’s boyfriend, Christian Patrick, for every mistake he made during his Nov. 30 home-schooling session. The punishment reportedly lasted for hours and left the boy crying and bleeding. The mother, Lashay Patterson, did nothing to stop it. The problem, according to Patrick, was that Dashawn did not seem interested in the lesson, according to a preliminary hearing describing the final hours of the boy’s life.
“When he got the ‘a’ part, I told him to tell me the last part of sad, because I wanted him to say it correctly,” Patrick reportedly told police. “I told him if he didn’t tell me the letter that made the ‘d’ sound, he was going to get another beating. So he said the letter ‘w,’ and I told him he was wrong, and he just started saying every letter except the ‘d’ sound, so I beat him again.”
The beating eventually lead to Dashawn’s death.
As NewsOne previously reported, the boy’s other family members suspected that Dashawn had been abused prior to his death. They boy was never allowed play outside with other neighborhood children. Tracy Merriweather, the boys’ paternal aunt and Patterson’s next-door neighbor, said when she asked Patterson about suspicious bruises on her son’s body, the mother stop letting her see the boy and his younger brother.
The Wednesday’s preliminary hearing confirmed Merriweather’s worst fears. Perhaps the most disturbing detail heard at the hearing was the lack of regard the mother and her boyfriend showed over the boy’s condition when it was clear that he was mortally injured.
Philly.com has more:
Patrick and Patterson put the boy’s sluggish body in the shower, stripping him of his Batman underwear and splashing water in his face. They tried the hair drier, then put him to bed.
Patrick said he had suggested that they take Dashawn to the hospital earlier, but that the child’s mother had refused, saying, “We would both get in trouble.”
In her statement to police, read to the court by Detective Howard Peterman, Patterson said she had heard and seen Patrick beating Dashawn during the lesson, but it “didn’t sound like he was breaking any bones or nothing like that.”
She told police she and Patrick had regularly beat Dashawn since he began his kindergarten home-schooling.
“I’d say since he started school, he’d get beat maybe twice a week and the other days he’d just have to stand in the corner,” she told police.
Detectives are still looking at the details of Dashawn’s home-schooling, said Lt. Philip Riehl, who is leading the investigation.
A medical examiner testified Dashawn died from “multiple blunt impact” and said he couldn’t count all the bruises.
As the details of Dashawn’s death were read, Patrick stared at Patterson. She did not look back, at times rubbing her eyes but displaying little emotion.
Many in the crowded courtroom were moved to tears, including a sheriff’s deputy and some of Dashawn’s relatives, who did not want to speak after the hearing.
The judge presiding over the hearing held Patterson and Patrick for trial on a charge of first-degree murder.