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Lafayette woman gets 55 years in 3-year-old's beating death

Crystal Cox, 31, was found guilty of murder and neglect for allowing her boyfriend to punch her son, causing fatal injuries.
Credit: Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department
Crystal Cox

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A northwestern Indiana woman convicted of murder in the beating death of her 3-year-old son was sentenced Tuesday to 55 years in prison.

A judge also sentenced 31-year-old Crystal Cox to two years of probation for the July 5, 2021, death of her son Zeus. When police arrived, they found Zeus on a bedroom floor and officers noticed bruising on his body.  

A jury in May found the Lafayette woman guilty of murder and neglect.

Her boyfriend, Jermaine Garnes, is scheduled to be tried on murder and neglect charges in October.

Cox and Garnes told officers the boy had been sick. They said they had given him medicine and let him sleep in their bed that night.

To explain the bruising, Garnes said the boy had fallen in the backyard, fallen off a bike and that there would be marks from the belt he used to spank Zeus with. Cox claimed the boy's bruising came from running into a table.

A witness told police that when he spoke with Garnes after the child's death and asked if Garnes had killed the boy, "Garnes ended up making a comment to the effect that he thought he did."

Another witness told police that when they spoke with Cox after the boy's death, "the female said Jermaine killed him."

Credit: Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department
Crystal Cox and Jermaine Garnes

According to court documents, Garnes' son told investigators he witnessed his father beating Zeus the day before his death and the beating took place in front of Cox.

"What happened to Zeus, the abuse he endured at 3 years old, is unfathomable," Deputy Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Elyse Madigan said.

An autopsy found the 3-year-old had a lacerated kidney, small intestine ruptures, rib fractures and internal bleeding. The cause of death was blunt force traumatic injuries.

Garnes is scheduled to stand trial in October for murder and neglect.

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