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Death penalty sought against Tallahassee woman accused of beating 3-year-old child to death with tire iron

Posted at 11:45 AM, Oct 21, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The state is seeking the death penalty against a Tallahassee woman accused in the murder of a 3-year-old child.

Monday morning, state prosecutors filed a notice of intent to seek the death penalty against Te’Lea Jefferson.

Court documents reveal Te'Lea Jefferson, 23, was charged with murder and aggravated child abuse after admitting to repeatedly beating a 3-year-old child in the head with a metal tire iron.

According to arrest documents, Jefferson was the one who took the child to Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare at 6:58 p.m. on Oct. 19 The child, who had "severe trauma to his head and face" and was unresponsive, died six minutes later.

Investigators noted that the boy had signs of "older injury patterns, scars, and abrasions" on his body as well.

Documents said Jefferson, who said she was in a relationship with the boy's mother, told hospital staff that the toddler had fallen off a sink while brushing his teeth and hit his head on the toilet, shattering the porcelain.

"However, the victim’s injuries and evidence at the scene, did not appear to be consistent with that version of events," TPD wrote in their Monday press release.

Initially, Jefferson told investigators that she told the child to go brush his teeth around 3:15 p.m. that day and tried to attend to his injuries for about 10 minutes before she ultimately took him to the hospital.

However, when told by investigators that her timeline didn't make sense, Jefferson admitted that the child had "angered her" by refusing to get down from the sink, so she hit him with the metal tire iron.

“Jefferson said that she walked into the bedroom and retrieved the tire iron from a tool kit," arrest documents read. "She advised that she returned to the bathroom and threw the tire iron at [the child], striking him upon the side of the face.”

Eventually, documents said Jefferson admitted to repeatedly beating the child with a tire iron on his head and body even as he tried to run away from her.

"Jefferson confirmed that there was a significant delay in seeking medical attention. She would admit that [the child] was likely deceased prior to transporting him to TMH," documents stated. "Jefferson indicated that he was unresponsive and that as she carried him out to the vehicle she suspected that he was no longer alive."

When asked, Jefferson also admitted to using of physical punishment during prior incidents. Based on those interviews, investigators believe both the boy and his older sibling "have endured prior physical abuse."

Investigators wrote the prior incidents of abuse are being investigated in conjunction with the Department of Children and Family Services, who took the boy's older sibling into their custody.

Based on the investigation, Jefferson was arrested and charged. She is being held in jail without bond after appearing in front of a judge on Wednesday.