The father and stepmother of a Waggaman teenager who was severely beaten last week will be booked on second-degree murder charges in the wake of the boy’s death, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.
Jalen Daniel, 14, died Monday from injuries caused by head trauma, Jefferson Parish Coroner’s Office Chief Investigator Mark Bone said. The coroner has ruled his death a homicide.
The Sheriff’s Office said Daniel and his 15-year-old brother were regularly beaten by their father, Furnell Daniel, over poor grades.
Sometime on Friday night, authorities said, Furnell Daniel beat his younger son repeatedly with a paddle inside their home on Clifford Court.
When Jalen’s stepmother, Terri Daniel, returned home after 10 p.m., investigators said, Jalen complained of headaches and other injuries. His father and stepmother gave him headache medicine and an Epsom salt bath, but he collapsed while being bathed.
For several hours, the Sheriff’s Office said, his parents delayed taking him to the hospital — even as he sweated, vomited and urinated on himself.
Finally, about 12:22 p.m. Saturday, Furnell Daniel placed a call to 911.
He told officers that his son had fallen and hit his head in the bathtub. But doctors at Ochsner Medical Center on the east bank told detectives that the boy’s injuries suggested abuse. Investigators found the boy unresponsive at the hospital with cuts and bruises on his legs, arms, torso and head, and with a splinter of wood inside a wound above his left eye.
Terri Daniel said she knew about the incident but denied knowing how serious her stepson’s injuries were, according to deputies.
Both parents were booked Monday on second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. Jalen Daniels’ death prompted the rebooking on a murder count, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Col. John Fortunato said.
Furnell Daniel’s attorney, Lionel “Lon” Burns, said his client is shocked and distraught over his son’s death.
“The gentleman is very sorry. He was only trying to discipline his son and encourage him to do well in school,” Burns said. “He had no idea at the end of the day, his son would end up in the morgue, and he would end up in the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.”
Burns said his client made no excuses for his behavior but that he did not intend to kill or inflict great harm on his son — necessary components for conviction on a murder count, Burns said.
Both parents remain in the Gretna lockup ahead of a Feb. 16 bail hearing.