Coroner's Office to present autopsy findings in boy's death

Updated at 11:20 a.m. — Preliminary autopsy findings in the death of 5-year-old Jay’v’une Bergin will be presented at noon today at a press conference conducted by the East Baton Rouge parish Coroner’s Office.

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Vernell Day faces a first-degree murder count after his 5-year-old son succumbed to injuries from an apparent beating, authorities said.

The child, Jay’v’une Bergin, died shortly before 10 p.m. Wednesday, said Cpl. Don Coppola, a police spokesman.

Day, 36, will be rebooked on first-degree murder, Coppola said Thursday. Day originally was booked on attempted first-degree murder after the child was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries that included bleeding in his brain.

Authorities found “obvious signs of abuse and neglect” and proof of “numerous acts of cruelty,” such as signs of malnutrition and bruises over Jay’v’une’s body that were in various stages of healing, according to police and the affidavit of probable cause.

Police said Day was the only adult at the home when Jay’v’une sustained the injuries, but Day on Wednesday insisted to reporters he did not beat his son.

Neighbors were shocked and described Day as a neighbor who kept to himself, but always seemed friendly in their encounters.

“I never would have thought that (Day) would beat a child,” said Cathy Fort, who said she saw Day regularly because her uncle lives near Day’s shotgun-style home on North 48th Street. “He looked like he was a level-headed person. I thought he was a good father.”

Fort said that she would often see Day taking a young girl and Jay’v’une to and from school. Day would cook barbecued ribs or chicken for his son and offer the food to neighbors, Fort said. He also kept his yard in good order.

But Fort also said Day stayed inside most of the time, and she never actually saw Day’s son despite many hours spent in a yard across the street.

Police on Tuesday said Day was the boy’s sole caretaker, though they were not sure about any past instances of abuse.

Members of the boy’s maternal family declined to comment Thursday. Jay’v’une’s mother could not be located.

A spokeswoman with the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services, which is tasked with intervening in cases of abuse and neglect, declined to say whether they were investigating the child’s family, citing the pending criminal investigation. The spokeswoman, Lindsey deBlieux, added in an email that the coroner had not yet determined whether Jay’v’une died from abuse and neglect.

Police also found ammunition for a handgun during a search of Day’s home, which Day is not allowed to own after pleading guilty to possession of alprazolam in 2009, the affidavit says. Court records show Day has several other drug convictions.

Attempts to reach Day’s family on Thursday were unsuccessful.

Day, of 1424 N. 48th St., Baton Rouge, was booked into Parish Prison Wednesday and remained booked on Thursday on counts of first-degree murder and felon in possession of a firearm.