HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — A High Point father could face the death penalty for his alleged involvement in the death of his 6-year-old son Malaki, from what authorities described as a “significant history and pattern of physical abuse.”
On Sunday, June 11, authorities said the child’s biological father, Devon Nelson, 30, took him to the Moses Cone Emergency Care center. Doctors described the child as being unconscious at the time of being brought in, had water in his lungs and significant bruises along his body.
Court documents detail that Nelson told doctors his son slipped and fell in the bathtub at the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, Tamara Corbett, and a 3- and 4-year-old child.
As doctors began to try and treat Malaki, they discovered he had a body temperature of 82 degrees and had been dead for several hours before being brought to the hospital.
They also discovered the child had burns on both sides of his thighs, and buttocks; two patterned bruises on top of the right and left thigh, a bruise above his eye, and several bruises and cuts within various healing stages over his body.
Doctors then contacted investigators with the High Point police.
Agents with the department’s Special Victim’s Units arrived at the hospital and began to question Nelson.
Court documents detailed that Nelson did admit that he had beaten his children with a switch (a flexible rod that is typically used in corporal punishment) on a number of occasions as a form of discipline.
Authorities alleged that Nelson said he had beaten his son earlier in the day for wetting his pants, and for interrupting him as he played video games.
He is alleged to have stated that he did not drown his child, but rather put him in the bathtub due to one of the beatings opening old wounds.
Authorities conducted a search of the apartment Nelson shared with Corbett on Suffolk Avenue in High Point and the vehicle used to transport Malaki to the hospital.
Nelson and Corbett were taken into custody and charged with inflicted serious injury upon a child. Both received a $2 million bond.
Malaki’s 3- and 4-year-old siblings were also taken from the apartment and placed in the care of Social Services.
Authorities reported that the 4-year-old said they had seen their father beat Malaki earlier in the day.
Neighbors also reported hearing yelling coming from the apartment on a number of occasions.
Court documents also detail that the 4-year-old had healing fractures on their hands and arms.
Nelson and Corbett had their first court appearance on Monday for the charges they faced at the time.
On Tuesday, additional charges were added.
Nelson was charged with capital murder, and given no bond.
Corbett was charged with accessory after the fact, and is accused of having cleaned the crime scene and destroyed evidence. She was given an additional $1 million bond.
During her court appearance, Corbett shook her head as the judge read the charges against her. When given the chance, she told the judge that she was ready to prove her innocence and that her only involvement was that the crime happened at her apartment.
She also stated that she was employed and attended college to work in pediatric care.
Nelson did not speak during his appearance.
Prosecutors also detailed that Nelson had been accused of abuse against his son before.
Police criminal incident records outlined that Malaki was stopped at his elementary school by an employee. He is said to have had a black eye, and when asked about it he stated that his father had “popped” him.
The report stated that a teacher then contacted CPS and a social worker to interview Malaki. A social worker and school staff member spoke with Malaki’s parents about the incident.
Law enforcement was also involved and spoke with Malaki, who later changed his story and told authorities he had fallen.
FOX8 spoke with Lt. Travis Reams, with the HPPD SVU, which helped with that particular case in 2020.
He said that there was not enough evidence at the time. However, if charges were to have been brought then, he doesn’t believe it would’ve made a difference in this case.
“Would it have made a difference in this case if we would’ve charged him then? I’d say no. I’d venture to say even if we did make a charge in that case, I don’t know if it would’ve changed the outcome of what happened. And that’s sad to say.”
He explained that his department’s focus is now on the 3- and 4-year-old in making sure they are OK.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to start rewriting that memory and transition them into a good or happier place.”