Denton County man faces capital murder charge in death of 3-year-old boy

A 26-year-old Denton County man faces a capital murder charge in the death of a 3-year-old boy who was fatally injured this week while his mother was in a hospital delivering her third child, authorities said Thursday.

The boy suffered a head injury, a broken vertebra, a broken hip and bruises all over his body, and he had been sexually assaulted, officials reported.

The Tarrant County medical examiner's office identified the boy as Jesse Fisher and reported that he was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth.

No ruling had been recorded late Thursday on the cause or manner of his death.

Curtis Leon Copeland, with whom the mother and two children had lived for several days, was arrested Wednesday at a Denton hospital while he was visiting a relative, said Tom Reedy, a spokesman for the Denton County Sheriff's Department.

Copeland was in the Denton County Jail on Thursday night with bail set at $525,000, according to jail records, which list his aliases as X and Chaos.

The 19-year-old mother, who gave birth Tuesday, had not been charged, but the investigation was continuing, Reedy said. Child Protective Services had already been investigating a report that the 3-year-old had been abused in early March, a spokeswoman said.

CPS officials have placed the other children, a 1-year-old and the newborn, in foster care, the spokeswoman said. Copeland is not the father of any of the children, authorities said.

The boy's death

The pregnant mother and her two children had been living in Bowie but moved in with Copeland on March 25 in the 6500 block of Private Road 6601, Reedy said. That's between Krum and Sanger in unincorporated Denton County.

"She left on Tuesday morning to go have her baby," Reedy said. "And she left her two children with him."

Copeland went to a neighboring residence to ask that 911 be called, saying the boy had fainted, Reedy said.

The boy was taken first to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton and then transferred to the Fort Worth hospital.

Medical personnel called authorities, and sheriff's investigators and Texas Rangers interviewed Copeland on Tuesday. Copeland told them that the mother had told him that the boy had fallen down some stairs.

He agreed to take a polygraph test Wednesday but "didn't show up," Reedy said.

Officers began looking for Copeland and found him at Denton Regional Medical Center visiting his grandfather, who was scheduled for bypass surgery, Reedy said.

Copeland was initially arrested on an outstanding warrant, Reedy said. But after investigators searched his residence, he was booked into the Denton County Jail at 1:41 a.m. Thursday on suspicion of capital murder of a child younger than 6, records show.

CPS investigations

CPS has four reports on file regarding the mother, spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner said. In March 2007, a report of neglectful supervision and physical neglect was filed involving the one child she had then. Investigators reported finding no neglect.

In July 2009, she was reported for medical and physical neglect and neglectful supervision. This time, investigators found "reason to believe" the report. She then had two children, records show.

"They were offered family services," Meisner said.

In December, CPS received another report of neglectful supervision. That report was recorded as "unable to determine."

On March 9, CPS received a report of physical abuse of the 3-year-old. That report was being investigated when the child died, Meisner said.