• Mother, boyfriend held in beating death of 4-year-old


    BROCKTON (MyFoxBoston.com) -- A mother and her boyfriend were arraigned in Brockton District Court Tuesday in the June 2013 beating death of a 4-year-old boy.

    Antonio Durham, 32 who was dating the child's mother, is charged with murder and was held without bail. Tania Merisca, the boy's mother, is charged with being an accessory after the fact of the commission of a felony and was held on $250,000 bail.

    She allegedly lied to police, her family, her 4-year-old son's family and put on what some say was a show for television cameras last summer.

    "I would never harm my child. That was my only kid," she said.

    The 26-year-old allegedly told multiple stories to police and asked her brother and his girlfriend to lie, too.

    "Her whole demeanor didn't seem too genuine to me. It didn't seem too heartfelt. And that's being from someone who knew her. Like I've seen her cry more over different situations then how she did on the news," her son's cousin Takara Askew said.

    Durham and Merisca were staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Brockton at the time of the boy's death. Merisca said she left the hotel when she had to go to work, and called to check in on her son, Chauncey Cohen.

    Merisca said that when she got back to the hotel, she noticed the boy wasn't feeling well and decided to give him a bath when he went white, and had no pulse. That is when Merisca said she took him to Good Samaritan Medical Center. He was unresponsive and pronounced dead less than an hour later.

    The medical examiner determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the abdomen, and the manner of death was homicide.

    Investigators say Merisca was protecting for her boyfriend who is charged with beating the 35-pound boy to a slow death.

    "Bruising in a pattern that is consistent with a fist and injuries that were consistent with a hard punch to the stomach," Assistant District Attorney Frank Middleton said.

    "It's terrible. Nobody should have to go through that especially a young child at the hands of an adult," the boy's paternal grandfather Chet Cohen said.

    Surveillance video allegedly shows the 4-year-old enter the hotel alive, but then Durham and Merisca are seen carrying around what they believe is the lifeless body of the child on different occasions throughout their stay.

    District Attorney Cruz said that after a long investigation that included interviewing witnesses and examining forensic and medical evidence, case investigators obtained arrest warrants Wednesday.

    He went on to say, "It's a horrific fact pattern. What a terrible, slow, agonizing death the little boy went through; hopefully there will be some justice for this little boy at the end of this road."

    Both Durham and Merisca will be back in court on March 27.

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