A judge set bail at $1 million cash for a man accused of beating his girlfriend's toddler son to death, crushing the boy's liver, in South Jersey over the weekend in a fight that allegedly stemmed from the boy's mother buying the wrong groceries.
Judge Edward McBride arraigned Zachary Tricoche, 24, in the defendant's first court appearance Tuesday afternoon in Jamil "JB" Baskerville Jr.'s death.
Authorities said the 2-year-old boy's mother called 9-1-1 Saturday night when she realized JB was unresponsive in the Pennsauken apartment on Mansion Boulevard near Frosthoffer Avenue where they live. But it was too late: Doctors at Cooper University Hospital pronounced the little boy dead shortly after midnight Sunday. Authorities said JB suffered injuries including severe blunt-force trauma to his organs and torso area, along with internal bleeding.
The medical examiner ruled that JB bled to death internally after having his liver crushed.
Tricoche faces charges including first-degree murder.
In court, prosecutors mentioned an affidavit of probable cause that states Tricoche began arguing with the boy's mother and shoved her Saturday night when she returned home with groceries but hadn't purchased the food that Tricoche likes.
JB became upset at seeing his mother shoved that the 29-pound boy stepped in to intervene. Tricoche, enrage, shoved the boy so hard that Jamil hit the wall and struck his head, said prosecutors.
Tricoche then struck the boy again while telling JB to put his hands up and fight like a grown man.
Police investigated and quickly arrested Tricoche, who has past charges/convictions including drug trafficking and hindering apprehension, said prosecutors. Due to the flight risk, the judge set the bail at $1 million. Tricoche had no public defender in court Tuesday.
A source told NBC10 two of JB's siblings were also injured by Tricoche and more charges could be on the way.
Neighbors told NBC10 the family moved in only a month ago and mostly kept to themselves.
"It breaks my heart," said Mabel Stevenson. "I can't even imagine what the parent, the family, feel like."