The fight began with a mother and her boyfriend arguing over groceries.
At some point, prosecutors in Camden County, N.J., say, the woman’s 2-year-old boy became upset that 24-year-old Zachary Tricoche had pushed his mother and began to cry, according to the Courier-Post.
That’s when Tricoche attacked, prosecutors say, punching the 29-pound boy so hard that the toddler was launched into a wall, Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said at a court hearing last week, according to NJ.com.
Then, Shah said, Tricoche instructed the 36-inch-tall toddler to “put his hands up,” meaning “that he should form a boxing stance to fight this full-grown man,” NJ.com reported.
At that point, Tricoche hit the boy again, “causing J.B. to again strike his head on a wall and rendering him unconscious,” Shah said, according to the Courier-Post.
Both punches struck the boy — identified as Jamil Baskerville Jr. — in his torso, according to CBS affiliate WFMY.
The child’s mother called 911 around 11:30 p.m. Saturday and said her toddler was unconscious, the station reported.
Citing a probable-cause statement, the Courier-Post reported the desperate rush to save the child’s life:
“My boyfriend is, like, trying to get him to wake up,” said the mother, who became distraught as the 911 call continued.
She mentioned bruising to the boy’s chest, saying, “It’s turning color,” but did not refer to any alleged assault.
“He has vomit coming out his nose and mouth,” the mother told the 911 dispatcher, who had already dispatched emergency responders. “Can you please hurry up?”
Tricoche, who lived at the home, took the phone at one point to receive directions on administering CPR to the child.
About 30 minutes after that phone call — after the boy had been transported to Cooper University Hospital — he was pronounced dead, WFMY reported.
A medical examiner would later determine that the child’s liver has been crushed by the blows, leading him to bleed to death internally, WFMY reported. The station reported that “the official cause of death is blunt force trauma and the manner of death is homicide.”
Tricoche, of Pennsauken, N.J., is facing murder charges, according to the New York Post. He was arraigned in Camden County Superior Court on Tuesday and remains in Camden County jail on a $1 million cash bail, the paper reported.
“Tricoche only spoke in court to say that he understood the charges, to tell the judge how to pronounce his last name, and to say that he had a public defender,” NJ.com reported, noting that he didn’t name the lawyer and appeared alone at the hearing.
Shah said Tricoche has a lengthy criminal history that includes a juvenile conviction for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and several adult convictions, NJ.com reported. In 2011, the outlet reported, he was convicted of distributing drugs in a school zone, which led him to serve a three-year prison term. In 2014, Tricoche was convicted of loitering to obtain a controlled substance, NJ.com reported.
At Tricoche’s arraignment, Gerome DeShields, the child’s grandfather, told reporters that there was no excuse for a man to attack a child, according to the Courier-Post.
“You’re less of a man to sit there and put your hands on any type of child, no matter what age it is,” DeShields said. “He was 2 years old. There should be no reason you should want to hit him.”