Jamil Baskerville Jr. was sitting on a bed crying when his mother's boyfriend punched him in the chest Saturday night, causing Jamil to fall backward and his head to hit the wall, authorities said.
When Jamil got up, Zachary Tricoche punched him again, prosecutors said. This time, Jamil did not get up.
His mother called 911 from their Pennsauken home. She told dispatchers that her son wasn't breathing, and that his chest had bruises, prosecutors said. He had also vomited before losing consciousness.
Jamil, 2 years and 8 months old, and weighing just 29 pounds, was rushed to Cooper University Hospital, where he died less than an hour later.
On Tuesday, a Superior Court judge in Camden ordered Tricoche, who has been charged with murder, held on $1 million bail after prosecutors described how he allegedly ended Jamil's short life.
Camden County Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah, who identified Jamil by his initials, "JB," said in court that the boy died from a devastating blow to his liver.
"Essentially, JB bled to death internally," Shah said, adding that Tricoche had told the boy to put his hands up as if in a boxing stance.
Shah said Jamil had started crying after Tricoche pushed his mother during an argument about food she had bought. Tricoche, 24, did not like any of it, Shah said.
He appeared in court in a blue jumpsuit and shackles, and looked down during most of the hearing, only answering basic questions from Judge Edward McBride Jr.
Nearly a dozen court officers stood between Tricoche and Jamil's family. About 10 relatives sat in the back, some wearing sunglasses. One cried as Shah described how Jamil was punched.
After the hearing, Jamil's grandfather Gerome DeShields said the state should bring the death penalty back for Tricoche.
"He should be put to sleep, because he killed my grandson," DeShields said. He added, "He was 2 years old. There should be no reason that you want to hit him."
Tricoche was arrested after Pennsauken police were called to the house in the 5900 block of Mansion Boulevard about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, responding to a report of an unresponsive child. He has several convictions for drug-related crimes, Shah said.