Florida Man Smothers 6-year-old Son While Playing Video Games

James Dearman
James Dearman
ENGLEWOOD, Florida - A Florida man has been charged with aggravated child abuse after he allegedly smothered his 6-year-old son in a couch while playing video games on Christmas Eve, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators say that, while 31-year-old James Dearman and his girlfriend were playing video games in the living room on Christmas Eve, he made his son and 7-year-old sibling stand with their faces to the wall. When his son turned to look at the television, Dearman allegedly got angry and brought the child to the couch where he forced him to lie on his side and face the rear cushions. Dearman then used his body weight to pin his son down while he and his girlfriend continued to play video games. 

According to the arrest affidavit, Dearman's son screamed that he couldn't breathe and begged to use the bathroom, eventually urinating on the couch, and later became unconscious. Dearman and his girlfriend left the child on the couch, went to the garage to smoke a cigarette, and later called 911, investigators say. The child was later transported to the hospital and pronounced dead. Responding deputies reported seeing bruising on the child's back.

Dearman was arrested Monday on an outstanding warrant from Georgia for animal cruelty and criminal damage to property. Late Wednesday, detectives working in conjunction with the Medical Examiner's Office charged Dearman with aggravated child abuse. He is currently being held on all charges without bond at the Sarasota County Jail. Dearman's history includes an arrest in 2008 for Desertion from the Navy.

The 7-year-old sibling was uninjured and remains in the protective custody of the Department of Children and Family Services. The Sheriff's office said in a release that the investigation is continuing because an official cause of death has yet to be determined by the Medical Examiner's Office.

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