BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama grand jury has upgraded charges to capital murder against a father accused of involvement in his 2-year-old son’s blunt force trauma death, according to recently released court documents.
Demetric Hampton Sr., 27, was initially charged with murder in Demetric Hampton Jr.’s death almost exactly one year ago, news outlets reported. A Jefferson County grand jury increased the charges last month and added an aggravated child abuse charge, AL.com reported Monday, citing unsealed court documents.
The boy’s stepmother, Terrica Harris, was also indicted on an aggravated child abuse charge.
Authorities in Center Point were called to a home in May 2020 on a report that a child was not breathing, officials have said. When law enforcement arrived, Hampton and Harris told officers the child began to choke while eating, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Joni Money told news outlets Friday.
The 2-year-old was taken to a Birmingham hospital, where doctors discovered he had multiple injuries and burns that were not consistent with the initial explanation, Money said. The toddler died about an hour later.
Last week, two Birmingham attorneys filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the child’s estate against the Alabama Department of Human Resources alleging the agency returned the child to his father and stepmother after they had been involved in a separate April 2020 domestic violence and child endangerment case.
According to the lawsuit, Hampton had prior offenses before Demetric’s death and the department had previously taken custody of his oldest daughter. The attorneys argued that the department was aware of the history and violated policy by placing the child back with his father and stepmother.
The agency has refused comment, citing pending litigation.
Hampton has been held in Jefferson County Jail since his May 2020 arrest.
It was not immediately clear where he or Harris had attorneys who could comment for them.