Watch “Nancy Grace” Monday night at 8 & 11 p.m. ET on HLN for more details on this developing story.
An Orlando father charged with first-degree murder allegedly told police his son collapsed to his death after he forced the boy to do push-ups and squats as punishment for misbehaving in school.
However, a medical examiner ruled 26-year-old Darell Avant’s 5-year-old son died from internal injuries caused by multiple blunt-force trauma, according to court documents.
Authorities initially arrested Avant on child abuse charges but those charges were later upgraded following the medical examiner’s determination that the child’s death was a homicide.
An Orange County Fire and Rescue medic pronounced the boy dead at the scene 25 minutes after Avant called 911 on the night of December 18 to report that his child was unconscious.
During an interview with police, the boy’s father allegedly stated he picked up his son from Pershing Elementary School around 11 a.m. on December 18 because the boy was acting up. According to an arrest affidavit, Avant told authorities his son had recently been suspended from school for kicking a teacher.
After arriving at Avant’s Burroughs Court apartment in Pine Hills, Avant allegedly said he sent his son to his room and then “popped” him on the buttocks a couple of times.
The father stated to authorities he then ordered his son to perform push-ups and squats for approximately 20 minutes, according to the affidavit.
Afterward, Avant allegedly told police his son became dizzy and collapsed on the floor following a shower. The document states Avant said he slapped, rocked and shook his son to try and wake him.
Avant told investigators he called a friend to come over and help after 25 minutes, according to the affidavit. He said he called 911 when his friend’s attempts to resuscitate the child through CPR were unsuccessful.
Investigators stated they noticed multiple bruises and contusions on the child’s upper body. However, the child’s mother allegedly told authorities her son didn’t have bruises on him when he went to school that morning.
"The doctors feel this was a beating that took a long period of time," Det. Kevin Wilson of the Orange County Sheriff's Office told HLN affiliate WFTV.
Two days after his 5-year-old son’s death, a court ordered Avant’s younger child to be placed in his mother’s custody. Authorities say the younger child witnessed the alleged murder.
The Department of Children and Families says they are looking into whether Avant’s younger child suffered abuse, according to HLN affiliate WFTV.
HLN’s attempts to reach the Department of Children and Families Monday were unsuccessful
Avant is currently being held at the Orange County Jail without bond. If convicted of first-degree murder, he could face death.
Arrest records show Avant has a lengthy criminal past including arrests for aggravated battery on a pregnant person and grand theft.
HLN reached out to the public defender’s office in an attempt to locate the name of an attorney representing Avant, but calls were not returned.