Ronnie Paris Jr. went on trial for his own life this week in a Tampa courtroom. The toddler's mother, Nysheerah Paris, testified that her husband thought the boy might be gay and would force him to box.
Nysheerah Paris told the court that Paris would make the boy fight with him, slapping the child in the head until he cried or wet himself. She said that on one occasion Paris slammed the child against a wall because he was vomiting.
The court was told there had been a history of abuse by Paris. Prosecutor Jalal Harb said that in 2002, the Florida Department of Children & Families placed the child in protective custody after he had been admitted to the hospital several times for vomiting.
He was returned to his parents Dec. 14. A month later he went into a coma and was rushed to hospital. Six days later he was removed from life support and died. An autopsy showed there was swelling on both sides of his brain.
"He was trying to teach him how to fight,'' Nysheerah Paris' sister, Shanita Powell told the court. "He was concerned that the child might be gay.''
Following the child's death Tampa police Detective Anthony Zambito thought there was something suspicious. He testified that he questioned both parents closely at the hospital. But it wasn't until investigators questioned them separately Feb. 1 that the boy's mother talked about the abuse.
Paris was charged with capital murder and Nysheerah Paris was charged with felony child neglect and faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.