Charges upgraded for man accused of beating 18-month old child

By KPLC Staff

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Office reports that the 18-month-old DeRidder child who was the victim in an alleged beating, lost its fight for life around midnight Monday.

Officials say the charges against the man accused of harming the child, 24-year-old Jeffery P. Denby of DeRidder, have been upgraded to first degree murder. He's being held in the Beauregard Parish Jail with no bond.

Denby was arrested early Friday by Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Officers and charged Thursday night after emergency Room officials contacted sheriff's deputies in regards to an 18-month-old child in critical condition. Medical officials say the toddler was badly bruised and suffered severe head trauma.

Detectives learned during their investigation that four children ranging in age from 2 months to three years, were left in Denby's care on Thursday.

Denby and the toddler's mother, Holly Brewer, shared a home and also have a 3-month-old daughter together. The toddler is identified as 18-month-old John Thomas Anthony Brewer, affectionately called "J.T." by family and friends. Brewer tells 7 News when she returned home Thursday night she found the infant unresponsive.

Investigators say Denby allegedly beat J.T. sometime around noon after he says he tipped over the baby's bassinet. J.T. was rushed to Beauregard Memorial Hospital and later transferred to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital where doctors were upfront about his injuries.

"They were straight forward with me and I understand the decision and what they told me was his left side of his brain was pretty much dead and the right side the damage was irreversible," said Brewer.

"It's difficult for deputies, detectives, it's difficult for the whole community. We hate when something we like this happens," said Sheriff Ricky Moses.

As the investigation continues, sheriff's officials say more arrests could follow. Meanwhile all three of the other children, including Brewer's three month old, remain in state custody.

"I have a hearing tomorrow regarding my daughter," said Brewer. "I miss her so much I want to hold her in my arms. I want my daughter back."

DeRidder Police assisted in Denby's arrest and the Office of Community Services is also investigating.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)