MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The trial for a man charged with beating his 3-year-old son to death is underway.
Maurice Brown is charged with murder, child abuse, and resisting arrest.
Young Maurice Brown, Jr.'s body was found in a dumpster two years ago.
The boy's mother, Latoya Kennah, lives in Pine Bluff, Ark., and took Junior to stay with his father in Memphis two summers ago.
On the witness stand Tuesday, she said Junior had been acting out at daycare, and she hoped a summer with dad would calm him down. She never dreamed that would be the last time she would see her baby alive.
"I should have just came and got him," she sobbed. "I'm sorry!"
Kennah said Brown called her and asked her to come get Junior from Memphis, where the boy was visiting him. She offered to meet him halfway to pick him up, but Brown refused, so Junior stayed with him.
Kennah would never see her little boy again.
During opening statements prosecutors described the child's bruised body, which was found in a dumpster not far from Maurice Brown's apartment just days after he was reported missing.
"There were multiple contusions and abrasions...lacerations to his head," prosecutor Jennifer Nichols told the jury.
Brown's lawyer, John Keith Perry, insists it was all a terrible accident. He told jurors Brown tried spanking Junior with the belt after he wet himself. He put him to bed, checked on him later and noticed he was not breathing.
"The boy is dead. the boy is not moving," Perry said. "This father, panicking, gives the boy CPR."
The defense said that explains why Junior had bruises on his chest.
As for why the boys body was found in a dumpster, Perry said Brown just panicked.
The prosecution paints a different picture of an angry and violent father who beat the toddler so badly, he bled to death internally.
Whose version is right? That will be up to the jury to decide.
The defense said Maurice Brown will take the stand in his own defense. Two years ago when Junior was thought to be missing, Brown cried in front of television cameras pleading for his son's safe return.
The death penalty is not on the table, so the jury will just have to decide whether he should spend the rest of his life behind bars.