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Sheriff: Father pinned son on couch, killing him

Posted: 12:22 PM, Dec 31, 2015
Updated: 2016-01-01 10:48:08-05

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office has arrested an Englewood man in connection with the suspicious death of his son on Christmas Eve. 

Investigators said James Dearman, 34, pinned his 6-year-old son on a couch for several minutes, which caused the child to suffocate.

According to an arrest affidavit, Dearman and his girlfriend were playing video games and made the 6-year-old and his 7-year-old sibling stand with their faces to the wall.

The 6-year-old turned to look at the television which caused Dearman to get angry. 

The police report indicates Dearman forced the child to lie on his side and face the rear cushions. Dearman then used his body weight to pin his son down while he and his girlfriend continued to play video games. 

The 7-year-old told police their brother screamed that he could not breathe and begged to use the bathroom before becoming unconscious. 

Investigators said Dearman and his girlfriend left the child on the couch while they went to the garage to smoke a cigarette.  They called 911 after smoking.

Neighbor Avis Klein can't believe the little boy she saw playing in the yard is dead.

"No," she said with tears in her eyes. "I can't fathom it."

On her morning walks, she often saw the kids playing together in the yard, she said.

"Normal little kids," she said. "Yeah, they were boisterous but they stayed in their own yard. Not a bother to anybody."

The child was transported to the hospital and pronounced dead. 

Dearman is charged with Aggravated Child Abuse and is being held without bond at the Sarasota County Jail, however, prosecutors said plans are in the works to upgrade his charges to aggravated manslaughter. The state said they will be seeking a $600,000 bond.

Dearman's was arrested in 2008 Desertion from the Navy.

The 7-year-old sibling is now in protective custody.