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Lafayette mother found guilty on all counts in 2021 murder of 3-year-old son

Mom, boyfriend beat boy to death, prosecutors allege
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Posted at 4:06 PM, May 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-19 16:07:26-04

TIPPECANOE COUNTY — A Lafayette mother has been found guilty of beating her 3-year-old son to death last year.

A jury convicted Crystal L. Cox guilty on all counts against her in the July 2021 death of the toddler, Zeus Cox, according to the office of Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington.

They include one count each of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, aggravated battery, and battery with death to a person under 14 years old, online court records show.

Prosecutors allege Crystal Cox and her boyfriend, Jermaine I. Garnes, murdered Zeus Cox by beating him, causing him blunt force traumatic injuries all over his body.

An autopsy found Zeus Cox died from injuries to his kidney, including small intestine ruptures, rib fractures and intestinal bleeding.

The boy was found dead by Lafayette police when they responded about 8:50 a.m. July 5, 2021, to the 1200 block of Howell Street for a report of a child not breathing. He was lying dead on the floor of a bedroom.

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Officers observed bruising on Zeus' chest, stomach and other areas of his body, according to a court document.

A forensic pathologist found the bruises on Zeus' body were recent and were not consistent with CPR, being whipped with a belt or falling down, as Garnes and Crystal Cox initially described to officers,

According to charging documents, a man described as Garnes's mentor told police Garnes had a drinking problem. When also said when he met up with Garnes the day of Zeus' death, Garnes admitted to beating the child with a belt and "ended up making a comment to the effect that he thought he did" kill the 3-year-old.

Crystal Cox allegedly told Garnes' mentor that same day that Zeus had called Garnes a name, which angered him, and "he took his anger out" on Zeus. She told the mentor that she believed Garnes killed her son.

Additionally, Garnes' 9-year-old son, who also lived in the home around the time of the incident, told investigators his dad hit Zeus with his fist on July 4 in the living room, while Crystal Cox was present. He also told police Crystal Cox would hit her 3-year-old son, usually with a belt, on other occasions.

Garnes is scheduled to appear before a jury on Oct. 4 in Tippecanoe Superior Court. His charges are the same as Crystal Cox's.

WRTV Digital Reporter Shakkira Harris contributed to this report.