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Man arrested after girlfriend's 3-year-old hospitalized

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says child in tub was beaten with belt

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Daniel Smith, 30, was ordered held on $1 million bond on charges of aggravated child abuse one day after his girlfriend's 3-year-old boy was taken to UF Health Jacksonville with life-threatening injuries.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the boy was found unresponsive about 8 p.m. Tuesday with a head injury and red welts on his legs and stomach in a home on Woodmere Street, off U.S. 17 near Big Fishweir Creek. Rescue personnel were able to revive the boy and took him to UF Health Jacksonville.

“What I can tell you is it’s unfortunate for this little child, is struggling with his life right now,” Sgt. Chuck Ford said. “But we are doing everything we can do figure out what happened."

Ford told media the child's mother was not home at the time of the incident. 

According to the arrest report, Smith, who is dating the boy's mother, took a belt to the 3-year-old while the child was in the bathtub. The victim's older brother told the Florida Department of Children and Families that Smith got mad at the boy because he kept falling asleep in the tub and started beating him with the belt.

Detectives said the child was in such bad condition a tube had to be placed down his throat to help him breathe. The boy also has several lacerations across his stomach and legs, and police said the head injury is consistent with a fall or being hit with a heavy object.

Kristi Levesque lives in the apartment above the family and said she heard yelling earlier in the day, but she was not home when the incident happened.

"I don't really know them, but I've seen the kids outside playing and stuff. They are normal," Levesque said. "He was your normal 3-year-old, seems happy, fully of energy. Just a good kid."

News4Jax learned that Smith has several prior arrests, including two for domestic battery, one for lewd consensual battery on a minor, and burglary. Smith is on the Florida registry of sexual offenders.

At his first appearance on the new charges Wednesday, his arraignment was set for Feb. 24.