ST. FRANCIS COUNTY, Ark. — An Arkansas man accused of beating and ultimately killing a 3-year-old girl was in court Monday morning.
Deontae Miller will remain in jail with no bond in St. Francis County.
Dorothy Lawson drove all the way from Jonesboro to Forrest City to give a letter to her son while he's in jail, charged with the murder.
"I just couldn't believe it. It's overwhelming," she said. "I want it to come back that he didn't do it. That's all I want it to come back saying."
But deputies said the 20-year-old suspect admitted to them he was babysitting his girlfriend's children when he hit the child.
She later died at Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis.
"We're handling this case the way we'd want it to be handled if it were on of our children. Our guys are going above and beyond," said Capt. Eddie Adamson with the St. Francis County Sheriff's Department.
That's why deputies said they picked up lab work from Le Bonheur and drove it themselves to the state crime lab in Little Rock.
They said doctors found evidence the girl had also been beaten before this incident.
"Justice needs to be served for this little girl who cannot speak for herself. The innocent 3-year-old child is dead because a man beat her to death," Adamson said.
But family members went back and forth with whether they thought Miller did it.
They said he has mental issues, which deputies disputed.
"He's got bad nerves," Lawson said.
"If you do something to him, he gets mad," the suspect's sister, Moesha Lawson, said.
"I'm sure at some point a mental evaluation will be done, but the person that we interviewed did not appear to have any type of disability," Adamson said.
Miller is at the St. Francis County jail. He's in an area separate from the general population, in an effort to preserve his safety, officials said.
Jail officials would not deliver his mother's letter Monday.
They said his next hearing would take place July 2.
Arkansas' Department of Human Services is also investigating, as is standard procedure. Deputies said that didn't indicate any wrongdoing by the child's mother.
WREG spoke with her Monday, but she declined comment.