JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A father charged with murder in his toddler son's death appeared in court Friday afternoon. He was assigned a public defender and is being held on no bond.
Darien Head II, 21, (pictured right on Friday) was initially arrested on charges of aggravated child abuse and child neglect after police spent hours trying to determine how Amari Barnhill died. Police said it appears that the nearly 3-year-old boy was injured more than once, because some bruises appeared older than others.
Once the medical examiner determined late Thursday that Amari died of blunt-force trauma, the charge of murder was added.
According to the police report, Head's girlfriend saw him striking his son with her shoe Tuesday night, but she didn't see any injuries. She said that when Head woke her up early Wednesday morning and told her to call 911, she noticed a laceration on the boy's head.
Police said Amari was found unresponsive in an apartment on Kings Road about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Investigators said Amari had lacerations and bruises all over his body and head.
Head showed no emotion Thursday morning as a judge set his bond at $615,000 on the initial charges. In light of the murder charge, he will likely return to court Friday and have the bond revoked.
News4Jax found that Head was arrested in 2013 for domestic battery. Police said he tried to drag his girlfriend by her neck, then left with their 4-month-old child against her wishes. Court records show that he pleaded no contest, was sentenced to 12 months probation and ordered to enroll in a batterers intervention program.
A civil court order filed in May 2014 showed that Head was found to be Amari's father and he was ordered to pay $300 a month in child support.
"He would have been 3 (years old) December 16th," Amari's mother posted on Facebook. "I do not understand why this had to happen, but it's not for me to understand. God allowed it to happen, It was time to call his angel back home."
Amari's toys still sit in buckets in the living room of Carrie Washington, his great grandmother.
"I didn't want to believe it. My son was telling me I had to believe it. I just started crying out to God," Washington said. "He was happy. Everything was great. He was a happy child."
Head's next court appearances on the new charges were scheduled for 9 a.m. on Dec. 1 and Dec. 3.
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