A man was arrested Tuesday on first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse charges in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, North Miami Beach Police said.
Claude Alexis, 32, faces the charges following the death last week of Ezra Raphael, police said in a statement. Alexis was the only caretaker home with the two-year-old boy last Thursday night, when authorities were summoned to 15664 NE 10th Court and found the child unconscious on the dining room floor, according to police.
He was taken to Jackson North Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead shortly thereafter, police said.
The boy had trauma to his back and body, and an autopsy revealed his death was due to a homicide, police said. The investigation found sufficient probable cause to arrest Alexis on the murder and child abuse charges, police said.
Alexis’ girlfriend and the boy’s mother, Cierrah Raphael, 22, was arrested Tuesday on a charge of child neglect, according to police.
She was at work at the time of the incident, police said. But evidence showed that she repeatedly left her child home alone and uncared for, according to police.
Debra Elder, the former foster mother of Cierrah Raphael, said Ezra was always smiling. She considers herself his grandmother.
He had just started to speak in full phrases.
"You give him something, he'll say thank you. He was so lovable, sweet," Elder said. "He deserved to grow up."
North Miami Beach Police said the Department of Children and Families has been notified of the investigation and is in contact with them.
Alexis is being held on no bond, while Raphael is being held on $7,500 bond, according to online Miami-Dade Corrections records. It wasn’t immediately known whether Alexis or Raphael have an attorney.
Elder said Cierrah Raphael may have had personal struggles, but she loved her child.
"I don't think she would hurt her baby, so I guess I don't think it’s Cierrah, it’s the boyfriend," she said.
Elder said she only met Alexis a few times.
"The guy seemed very nice. My husband said don't let that fool you but he did fool me,” she said.
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