First came the denial, followed by a voice mail Jonathan Lamar Perry left on a detective's answering machine saying he wanted to "confess" to "whupping" his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.
Then, when Perry returned to a Sacramento County sheriff's interview room for another interrogation, he laid out in detail how he punched Jahmaurae Allen in the stomach and slammed him into a wall – twice – on the day the boy was beaten to death in a Foothill Farms apartment.
"He was crying, he was crying a lot," Perry, 29, said in the videotaped interview prosecutors played at his murder trial Tuesday in Sacramento Superior Court. "I got a little aggravated, and he wasn't doing what I was telling him to do."
Jahmaurae was "defiant," Perry said, demanding to stay up late at night night to watch TV. Perry, already angry with the boy for urinating on himself, said he then gave Jahmaurae a "whupping," and "I pushed him against the wall."
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The boy cried some more and still insisted on staying up. Perry said he told Jahmaurae to stop it and go to bed.
"He didn't, so I did punch him in the stomach, but he just wouldn't go to bed," Perry said. "He didn't go to his room, so I pushed him one more time against the wall."
Doctors later treated Jahmaurae for a skull fracture, broken ribs, a lacerated liver and a lacerated spleen, authorities said. Perry said on the tape Jahmaurae went into a seizure but appeared to recover, only to go unconscious, with no discernible heartbeat or breath. He said he called 911 when his efforts to revive the boy failed.
Paramedics arrived at the apartment in the 4400 block of Oakhollow Drive around 3:50 a.m. on July 21, 2008. The boy was pronounced dead later that day at UC Davis Medical Center.
Jahmaurae's death was one of four that year in which the victim's family had been referred to the county's Child Protective Services system. His death and a series of stories in The Bee sparked a Sacramento County grand jury investigation that found the CPS system rife with shortcomings that had gone unmitigated for more than a decade.
Perry, besides being charged with murdering Jahmaurae, also is accused in two additional counts of child endangerment related to the dead boy's younger brother.
In the videotape played for jurors Tuesday, Perry confirmed he also had "whupped" the younger brother, then 3, but denied punching him in the same fashion he did Jahmaurae.
Sheriff's Detective Brian Shortz told Perry in the interview a day after Jahmaurae's death that the younger brother was in the hospital and facing possible surgery for a ruptured adrenal gland. Perry then admitted he hit him in the stomach a week earlier, but "not more than a couple times."
Tiffany Lacy, the mother of the two boys, two days earlier had left Perry alone with Jahmauree and her 18-month-old daughter to take the 3-year-old to the hospital. She has since pleaded no contest to a single count of felony child endangerment and is awaiting sentencing at the conclusion of Perry's trial.