GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A Gwinnett County man is in jail after neighbors say he beat a 4-year-old child because the boy didn't spell his name correctly.
Channel 2’s Tony Thomas was the only reporter in the Gwinnett County courtroom Wednesday afternoon as the man made his first court appearance.
Anthony Burgess asked for a court-appointed lawyer and remains in jail.
Police say he beat his girlfriends’ son with a belt so hard that the child's skin split open.
No one was home, but there were indications scattered across the lawn a small child lived in the Smokecreek Parkway mobile home.
“Ever hear of anything? No they were pretty quiet. They usually stay inside,” said Lenny Barbaro.
A neighbor was surprised at the allegations that Burgess beat his girlfriend’s 4-year-old so hard with a leather belt that it caused open wounds. But another neighbor Thomas spoke with on the phone says she heard it all.
“I heard a man's voice cursing and telling the kid to shut up over and over and over,” Barbaro said.
She says the beating continued for 15 to 20 minutes – so loud she could hear it from across the street. In a police report an officer wrote, the boy’s mother told him "her son could not write his name down properly and gave her an attitude,” so that's why burgess began striking him.
“That’s what the man kept yelling. He kept saying ‘You’re going to write this. You’re going to write this. You’re going to sit here and right this and you’re not that hurt.’ Those were his exact words,” Barbaro said.
Police say they noticed signs of previous beatings as well.