- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BROCKTON, Mass. (AP) - A Brockton man was held without bail after pleading not guilty Tuesday to fatally beating his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son last June.

Antonio Durham, 32, was arraigned on a murder charge in the death of Chauncey Cohen. Chauncey’s mother, Tania Merisca, 27, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact. She was held on $250,000 cash bail.

Chauncey was brought to Good Samaritan Medical Center in Brockton on June 2 by Merisca, who said he became unresponsive while she was bathing him. Police were called when he was pronounced dead almost an hour later.

Investigators determined the boy died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.

The Boston Globe reports prosecutor Frank Middleton said in court Chauncey likely was dead when Durham and Merisca took him to the hospital. Middleton said Merisca changed her story several times before saying her son vomited and complained of a stomach ache the night before, saying Durham punched him.

The prosecutor said relatives noticed Chauncey began showing bruises after Durham and Merisca started dating six months earlier.

Middleton said Merisca and Durham checked into a hotel in Brockton the weekend Chauncey died, and he was last seen alive on surveillance video Saturday. The prosecutor said Merisca left Sunday morning, and surveillance video shows Durham carrying the boy’s body in the halls that afternoon. Middleton said a maid told police she saw a man standing over a boy’s body outside, and the man told her the child was sick.

Some of Chauncy’s relatives cried in court.

Lawyers for Merisca and Durham sought lower bail, saying Durham hasn’t tried to flee and Merisca has no criminal record.

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