Couple charged in fatal beating of 12-year-old boy in Northwest Side apartment, police say

Hospital staff said the boy had several whipping marks, internal stomach bleeding

SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio couple beat a 12-year-old boy and made him do push-ups and hold 50-pound boxes for hours before he lost consciousness and died at a hospital, according to police.

Derrick Coles, 32, and Kapri Cheatom, 27, were arrested overnight and each charged with injury to a child causing serious bodily injury, a first-degree felony, jail records show. Charges may be upgraded upon further investigation.

Police said they responded to the couple’s apartment in the 7000 block of Wurzbach Road just after 7:30 p.m. on Sunday for a report of an injured child.

Officers found Coles’ son, identified as Danilo Coles, unresponsive, an arrest warrant affidavit states. The couple alleged that the boy fell in the shower.

The boy was taken to University Hospital, where staff found “several suspicious injuries on the victim,” the affidavit states. He had no brain activity and was pronounced dead that night.

The couple was taken in for questioning, and Derrick Coles said the boy recently moved in with them. The boy was previously staying with his mother in Chicago, where he was allegedly abused in the past, the affidavit states.

Derrick Coles said the boy was “disrespectful” upon moving in, so he made him do push-ups and hold boxes that weighed about 50 pounds as a discipline.

On Sunday, Derrick Coles said he “busted” the boy’s lip and made the boy do push-ups and hold boxes for three to four hours, the affidavit states.

He said he made his son take a shower, where the boy fell and cut his eye, according to investigators. The man said he then made his son write three pages worth of lines of “I will obey all people that live in the household.”

When Derrick Coles made the boy do more push-ups, the boy said he could not, police say.

Derrick Coles and Cheatom then hit the boy with a belt, spanking him so hard that he had severe injuries to his buttocks, the affidavit states.

Investigators said the boy had several whipping marks and internal stomach bleeding.

Jail records show they were arrested around 1 a.m. Monday. Their bonds are set at $150,000 each.

Like many in the community, Pastor Brian Ayala with the Xtreme Harvest Church is devastated. He saw the crime scene as his congregation was getting out of service Sunday.

“When you are going through issues or hell and highwater at home, you don’t take it out on kids,” Ayala said. “That is number one. They could have reached out for help. Reach out if you know you are not right, and you know you are not right, and you just don’t see yourself going to that extent. Here we have a life that is lost, and it could have been prevented.”

Ayala said that, before this incident, he and several volunteers from his church would go into the apartment complex to spread the Gospel and mentor where they could.

Now, he said they would be even more engaged in the community to inspire anyone who is going through or who sees abuse taking place to reach out for help.

“You don’t have to put your hands on your kids,” Ayala said. “You don’t have to abuse your kids. You don’t have to go through that, and you are not alone. So many times, people think, ‘I am alone.’ You are not alone unless you choose to be alone. There is always help out there.”

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Rebecca Salinas has worked in digital news for more than 10 years and joined KSAT in 2019. She reports on a variety of topics for KSAT 12 News.