A preliminary hearing is scheduled today for a convicted child abuser accused of severely beating his 2-year-old son, putting the child in a coma.
Cleophus Fitts Jr. could face 25 years to life in prison if convicted of assault on a minor under 8 years old resulting in great bodily injury, stemming from an alleged attack in February at the defendant’s Menifee home.
Today’s hearing before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Helios Hernandez will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to order Fitts to stand trial. The 26-year-old defendant is being held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta.
According to prosecutors, Fitts was keeping his son at his residence while the toddler’s mother was visiting friends and relatives in another state.
The woman — whose identity has not been released — and the defendant are not married.
Fitts’ son was taken into the Menifee Valley Medical Center on Feb. 21 with major injuries to his head and neck, including brain trauma, said sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Hoxmeier. He said doctors were suspicious and notified sheriff’s personnel, who launched an investigation.
The toddler was later transferred to a facility that specializes in pediatric medical care and continues to receive treatment there.
Detectives arrested Fitts on suspicion of attempted murder and torture, but prosecutors determined the assault on a child charge, which carries an equally steep penalty, was more appropriate.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, the defendant has a prior misdemeanor conviction for child abuse out of Tacoma, Wash., and is still on probation in connection with that case.