Defense lawyer says seizure killed 2-year-old; DA says he was beaten to death

William Meeks Jr. says he was in the audience of a Long Beach courtroom when he saw his son’s accused killer for the first time.

“I was disgusted,” Meeks said. “I wanted him to look me in my eyes, and he wouldn’t look me in my eyes.”

Meeks was in the first row of spectators when 32-year-old Charles Davis Jr. was brought in wearing handcuffs on Jan. 22.

It had been more than six months since Meeks’ 2-year-old son, also named William, died suddenly.

Some details of his death are undisputed. Police and Davis’ attorney both say he was one of the last people to see William alive and well. But what happened next—and what exactly caused William’s deadly injuries—are likely to be the focus of the murder case now pending against Davis.

William Brian Meeks III. Photo courtesy Viktorya Meeks.

William Brian Meeks III. Photo courtesy Viktorya Meeks.

When William died at a hospital in June, Long Beach police said they originally treated it as a medical emergency, but that theory changed. Medical examiners ruled William’s death was a homicide and police arrested Davis, an Inglewood resident, on Jan. 19.

Authorities now allege William and Davis were alone in a car outside a liquor store near 10th Street and Daisy Avenue when Davis started beating the boy on the night of June 14.

But after a brief court hearing Tuesday, defense attorney Jovan Blacknell said he believes police’s original theory of how William died was more accurate.

“In essence, Mr. Davis was with the child when the child had a seizure,” he said.

Blacknell offered the caveats that he’s not a doctor and he’s still reviewing medical records, but he said Davis was with William for only about 30 seconds before the seizure began.

“I think it’s a real travesty he was even accused of this,” he said.

Charles Davis, of Inglewood, in court, charged today with murdering a 2-year-old boy outside a liquor store in Long Beach last summer in Long Beach, Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Charles Davis, of Inglewood, in court, charged today with murdering a 2-year-old boy outside a liquor store in Long Beach. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Police say Davis was an acquaintance of William’s mother. She lived on the same block as the liquor store, according to authorities.

Meeks, who is separated from William’s mother, believes the two were dating. Blacknell, however, said they were only friends.

Meeks scoffed at the idea that a seizure alone could’ve been responsible for his son’s injuries.

“Yeah, he had a seizure, but what initiated the seizure?” he said. According to Meeks, medical examiners said his son had been hit in the head repeatedly, leaving him with neck trauma and swelling in the brain.

Before the seizure, Meeks said, “He was healthy. He didn’t have no problems. This is just not going to happen out of nowhere.”

Authorities said they waited for a detailed examination of William’s wounds before deciding to charge Davis with murder and assault on a child causing death, to which he’s pleaded not guilty.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office has assigned a prosecutor from a specialized child-abuse unit to handle the case.

These investigations are complicated—especially when the alleged abuse happened in private—and they can often hinge on evidence gathered during medical examinations of the wounds, the prosecutor, Colby Cano, previously said.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is the breaking news editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram. He lives in Torrance with his wife, Lindsey, and their two young children.