14-year-old dies after JPSO says he was beaten over bad grades

Furnell and Terri Daniels, booked in JPCC with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile after their son was found in grave condition.
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JEFFERSON PARISH, La.-- A 14-year-old Waggaman boy has died after JPSO deputies say he was severely beaten by his father over bad grades at school.

Jalen Daniels died of head trauma two days after being hospitalized, according to the  Mark Bone, chief death investigator for the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office. 

Daniels' parents, Furnell and Terri Daniels, were originally booked with second-degree cruelty to a juvenile. After Jalen Daniels' death, they were re-booked with second-degree murder. 

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On Feb. 6, just after 12 p.m., Jefferson Parish deputies responded to a medical call near 70 Clifford Court in Waggaman. Authorities said the caller was Furnell Daniels, the father of the 14-year-old boy. Daniels said the boy fell in the bathtub and hit his head.

During the call, deputies said Daniels stated his son was unconscious, but still breathing. At the hospital, Daniels told deputies he paddled the boy the previous day for having poor grades, adding that his son complained of serious pain but the father thought his son was faking to avoid discipline.

Hospital staff told investigators that the severity of the teen's injuries were consistent with abuse, not a fall. The teenager was said to be in grave condition on Feb. 6, and he died on Feb. 8.

Deputies said the boy had numerous cuts, bruises, and abrasions on various parts of his body and head. Officials also said there was a splinter of wood inside a wound above the boy's right eye. Detectives said they learned the boy, along with his 15-year-old brother, would often get paddled by their father because of poor grades.

Authorities say at the time of the the incident, the teen's stepmother, Terri Daniels, was at work. When she came home, officials say she learned of the incident and the victim complained to her that he had headaches and other injuries. The parents went to a store to get epson salt for the teen, but investigators said the boy collapsed while he was bathing and could not stand on his own. Around 4 a.m. the next day, the teen began sweating heavily, vomiting and soiling himself, and his condition worsened in the hours that followed, with Furnell Daniels calling 911 after the boy became unresponsive.

Once investigators arrested the couple for second-degree cruelty to a juvenile, Furnell Daniels invoked his right to an attorney. Officials said Terri Daniels admitted knowledge of the incident, but said she was unaware of the extent and seriousness of the child's injuries. The JPSO has yet to announce an upgrade in charges following the boy's death. 

Both have been booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center.