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Crime

Man Allegedly Beat Toddler to Death with Coat Hanger After She Had Accident, Pleads Guilty to Abuse

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Aaliyah Lewis
GoFundMe

Aaliyah Lewis was like any toddler: happy, inquisitive and energetic. She had turned 2 years old on April 11, 2016, and celebrated with cake and balloons.

Ten days later, she was beaten to death.

Soon after her death, police arrested Aaliyah’s mother’s boyfriend, 21-year-old Jamarius Devonti Graham. In charging documents obtained by PEOPLE, police say that Graham was babysitting the toddler while her mother was at work.

According to the documents, on April 21, 2016, Graham allegedly beat the girl to death with a plastic coat hanger on and a belt after she had an accident on his bed. He then allegedly called Aaliyah’s mother and admitted that he had spanked the girl, but denied that he had struck the girl “too hard.” About 90 minutes after the girl’s mother came home, Aaliyah began to have breathing problems. They took her to the hospital, where she died later that day.

Jamarius Devonti Graham
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

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An autopsy found multiple traumatic injuries to her head, torso and extremities. There was also fluid and swelling on the lungs and brain. Despite Aaliyah’s injuries, the coroner was unable to determine an exact cause and manner of death.

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In court on Monday, Graham admitted to the charges against him and pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse.

In a press release, the State Attorney Office explained the charges. “‘The aggravated child abuse charge against Graham carries with it a 30-year maximum and reflects the findings of the Medical Examiner’s Office, which indicated the cause and manner of death could not be determined,” said spokesman David Chapman.

Graham’s sentencing is scheduled for April 17. The girl’s mother has not been charged with any crime.