About nine hours after 4-year-old Jahmaurae Allen died last July, the Sacramento County sheriff's detective investigating the case got a voice-mail message at work from Jonathan Lamar Perry.
"He said that he caused the injuries to Jahmaurae that led to his death," Detective Brian Shortz testified in Sacramento Superior Court on Wednesday. "He said he wanted to confess to causing the injuries to Jahmaurae."
Perry, 27, who weighs 250 pounds and is 6-foot-4, later told Shortz he had punched the little boy in the stomach and shoved him against an apartment wall after Jahmaurae urinated in his diaper in the middle of the night, the detective said.
Perry had moved in with Jahmaurae's mother, Tiffany Lacy, and two siblings a couple of months before the boy's death on July 21, 2008. He told authorities that he had attempted to instill discipline and potty training on the children.
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"He seemed to have told me that he himself had potty-training issues, that he himself had been 'whupped' by his mother," Shortz testified. "I think he told me that was effective."
With Perry's mother sitting as the only member of the public during the court hearing Wednesday, Judge Michael P. Kenny ruled there was reasonable cause to proceed with the case and ordered Perry arraigned on murder and child endangerment charges June 23.
Jahmaurae's death was the catalyst for a series of investigations into operations at Sacramento County's Child Protective Services agency, including revelations that records of his case had been altered after his death.
But none of that came up Wednesday.
Instead, the preliminary hearing focused on what happened in the two-bedroom Foothill Farms apartment in the predawn hours last July, when Jahmaurae's mother and 3-year-old brother were away because the brother was ill.
Perry, who has been in the Sacramento County Main Jail since July, remained silent throughout the hearing, which lasted less than two hours.
Shortz was the only witness called to describe what happened that night, when Perry was in the apartment with Jahmaurae and his 18-month-old sister.
"Jahmaurae came to him and said, 'I went to the bathroom in my pants,' " Shortz said under questioning from Deputy District Attorney Jeff Ritschard.
"He was wearing a diaper, so he went to the bathroom in his diaper."
Shortz added that Perry later told him "he gave him a 'whupping.' "
"He told him to go to bed and Jahmaurae wouldn't go to bed," Shortz testified. "He wouldn't go to bed and he wouldn't stop crying, and then Mr. Perry punched him in the stomach with his fist.
"He fell over on his side and curled up."
Later, after Jahmaurae suffered a seizure, Perry told Shortz he performed CPR on the boy before calling 911.
Jahmaurae, who weighed 42 pounds, died the morning of July 21 with injuries that included a fractured skull, broken ribs, a lacerated spleen and brain damage.
Later that day, Perry went to his mother's home in Antioch. That night, Shortz said, his voice mail recorded three phone calls, the first two from Perry's mother, the last from Perry saying he had caused the injuries.
Public defender Mickey Sampson questioned Shortz briefly about whether CPR performed on a child by an adult could cause injuries.
He did not pursue those questions at length, and called no witnesses. But he did ask Shortz about Perry's feelings for the children.
"He told you he loved those children very much, didn't he?" Sampson asked.
"I think he told me he liked Tiffany, and he loved the children," Shortz said.