Judge denies bond for North Miami Beach man in baby killing

 

dovalle@MiamiHerald.com

The North Miami Beach man accused of fatally beating 2-year-old Ezra Raphael with a belt will not be released from jail on bond, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The decision was expected. Claude Alexis, 32, is accused of aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder, a charge that does not allow for an initial bond.

“I loved that boy,” Alexis told the judge.

Police say he confessed to fatally beating Ezra, the son of his girlfriend, Cierrah Raphael, 22. She is charged with child neglect, and was granted a $7,500 bond on Wednesday.

Alexis appeared before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rodney Smith, via closed-circuit television. He wore a padded jumpsuit given to inmates who may pose a risk to themselves.

Paramedics on late Thursday night were called to the Alexis’ North Miami Beach home, where he had been taking care of the boy. The call: a “sick and unresponsive child.”

When paramedics arrived, police said, they found Ezra unconscious on the dining room floor. The toddler died shortly after he arrived at Jackson North Medical Center.

An autopsy showed that Ezra had sustained trauma to his back and body, and the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the boy’s death was a homicide, police said.

According to an arrest report, police officers on Tuesday found Alexis waiting outside the North Miami Beach police station. Unable to sleep, Alexis told Detective Michael Stein, he had walked to the police station.

Alexis, after waiving his right to remain silent, admitted he had gotten angry with Ezra after the boy had apparently turned on a faucet in the bathroom and got water “all over.”

The man admitted hitting the child “with a belt” and said “he did not mean for this to happen,” according to Stein’s arrest report.

Ezra’s death is already drawing scrutiny on Florida’s Department of Children and Families, which in February received a report that the boy was abandoned with a virtual stranger in Gainesville. The department learned the mother, who had been working as a prostitute, had left the boy with a woman she barely knew.

“Risk is high,” a report said, because Raphael, who was a former foster child herself, already had permanently lost custody of an older child because she was deemed unfit as a mother.

Yet, DCF closed the investigation 20 days later, without taking any action to protect the child.

Ezra’s death comes at one of the most troubling times in the agency’s history: Since May 16, at least four small children who had come to the attention of the agency have died in South Florida under tragic circumstances.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category