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law enforcement:

Mother, stepfather arrested in beating death of 7-year-old

Facebook posts depict a loving, religious family environment

Updated Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012 | 12:53 p.m.

7-year-old dies a victim of child abuse

Roderick Arrington was beaten to death by his parents in late November 2012 after he failed to read the Bible and do his homework, according to Metro Police.

Sun coverage

Roderick "RJ" Arrington

Roderick "RJ" Arrington

Click to enlarge photo

Dina and Markiece Palmer are shown in a photo from the Facebook page of Dina Palmer.

Dina Palmer's booking photo

Dina Palmer's booking photo

Markiece Palmer booking photo

Markiece Palmer booking photo

A 7-year-old boy was beaten to death by his parents last week after he failed to read the Bible and do his homework, according to Metro Police.

The boy's stepfather, Markiece Palmer, 34, and the boy's mother, Dina Palmer, 27, were arrested and charged with murder, child abuse and neglect in the beating death of Roderick Arrington, a second-grader at Roundy Elementary School. A hearing on the murder charges is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Thursday in Las Vegas Township Justice Court.

On Thursday, Arrington was transported to University Medical Center because he was unresponsive, according to an arrest report released Monday. The arrest report said officers were called to the hospital after medical officials observed severe bruising and massive brain swelling, but a news release issued Tuesday said officers were called at 8:45 a.m. Thursday to a residence in the 3100 block of South Decatur Boulevard to check on an unresponsive 7-year-old with significant injuries.

Arrington was admitted to the UMC's pediatric intensive care unit in critical condition. A doctor reported that Arrington suffered from strokes and fixed pupils and had bruises on the arms, abdomen, back, legs, thighs and buttocks.

"The buttocks had fresh open wounds that appeared to be from being whipped," the report said, adding that some of the bruises had left some tissue dead.

Arrington had surgery but died sometime after he was admitted to the hospital. Metro, in its news release Tuesday, said the boy died Friday.

Upon interviewing the Palmers, police uncovered the following, according to the arrest report:

About two to three months ago, Arrington moved to Las Vegas from Bloomington, Ill., where he lived with his natural father and maternal grandmother. This was the first time Markiece Palmer, the boy's stepfather, met Arrington, whom he described as an "outgoing, favorable and a good kid."

Markiece Palmer initially stated that he spanked Arrington twice, police said.

The first time was about one month after Arrington moved to Las Vegas, and it was for lying, the stepfather told police. The second time was Nov. 28, when Arrington allegedly told his stepfather that he hated him and that he was not his father.

However, over the course of the interview, Markiece Palmer admitted to police that he hit Arrington on multiple occasions using various household items such as his belt, a spatula and wooden paddle, as well as with his hands.

Prior to each beating, Markiece Palmer said he talked with Arrington's natural mother, Dina Palmer. Although she initially denied her role in the beatings, the mother was present and participated in each beating, Markiece Palmer told police.

Last Tuesday, Markiece Palmer admitted to police that he spanked Arrington because he allegedly lied about reading a chapter in the Bible. Dina Palmer struck Arrington on his buttocks with both a belt and her hand, the report said.

The next day at about 9:30 p.m., Markiece Palmer found Arrington asleep in bed without finishing his homework. Arrington allegedly lied about doing his homework, so Palmer said he struck Arrington on his buttocks with his belt, the report said.

Arrington then allegedly ran up to his stepfather with balled fists. Markiece Palmer — who is 6 feet, 1 inch tall and weighs 150 pounds — then grabbed the boy by his arms and shook him hard. Dina Palmer said she also struck Arrington with a belt and a paddle two to three times, the report said.

During the altercation, Arrington reportedly ran down the stairs and fell, hitting his forehead on a table, Markiece Palmer told police. The stepfather then told Arrington to take a bath, after which he put cocoa butter on the open wounds on the boy's buttocks, the report said.

Arrington, who told his father he felt like throwing up, then went to bed. He never woke up, the report said.

Markiece Palmer found the breathing, but unresponsive, boy in his bed between 6 and 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, the report said. Dina Palmer called their pastor, who told them to call an ambulance.

The mother called 911 at about 8 a.m., a little more than an hour after the stepfather found the boy unresponsive in bed, the report said.

When asked about the bruises and scars on her boy's body, Dina Palmer admitted to police the marks were from "whoopins" from both her and Markiece Palmer, the report said.

Police recovered a broken broom stick with what appears to be blood, belts, cords, spatulas and bloodied clothes from a warrant search of the Palmer residence, the report said.

The Palmers were arrested and booked at the Clark County Detention Center on Thursday. They are being held without bail.

The horrific allegations of child abuse stand in stark contrast to the couple's Facebook pages, which seemingly show a loving and religious family devoted to Roderick Arrington, nicknamed "RJ."

On one Facebook photo — apparently of Arrington and his niece — Markiece Palmer wrote: "My babies they make me happy. GOD bless the children!!!"

On another photo of the boy and another child, Dina Palmer wrote: "I love them with heart and soul!!!!" A Facebook post from October 2010 reads: "Lord please guide my steps.... I'm trying 2 do better.... I wanna do better 4 my son, my family, myself, 4 you LORD!!!!!!!!"

Several Facebook friends of Dina Palmer posted childhood photos of Arrington, which solicited responses such as "r.i.p" and "sorry for your loss."

According to an online press release, Markiece Palmer is a pastry chef and independent filmmaker who released a 23-minute short film last year called "Broken," which was based on his life experiences. Palmer grew up in rural Arkansas, studied business management in Washington and wrote a book, "Pour." After the book sold 2,000 copies, Palmer "suffered from the loss of a job, a failed relationship, and (was) stripped of his most valuable material possessions," according to the bio.

In June, Markiece Palmer married Dina Palmer, who is originally from Bloomington, Ill., according to her Facebook. By the fall, Arrington moved from Bloomington to live with the couple in Las Vegas.

Clark County School District officials said a team of grief counselors will be stationed at Roundy Elementary School this week to help students and staff cope with Arrington's death. School officials sent home a letter on Monday notifying families about the death.

There were 2,171 substantiated child abuse incidents reported in Clark County in 2010, according to the latest Nevada Kids Count study. Of those incidents, there were 13 child abuse cases that led to a child's death.

Children ages 2 and younger had the greatest risk of abuse and neglect, but about 20 percent of all child abuse cases in Nevada occur between ages 6 and 9. Boys are more likely to be abused than girls during the first nine years, but the pattern reverses in later years.

Nationally, more than five children die every day as a result of child abuse, according to the National Children's Alliance, an advocacy group for victims of child abuse.

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