MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — A 23-year-old Miami-Dade man is being held on $251,000 after police say he severely beat his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son.

The child remains in critical condition at Miami Children’s Hospital and one veteran officer says the story “breaks your heart.”

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Sgt. Bobby Hernandez of the Miami Beach Police Department tells CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It breaks your heart. It really breaks your heart because a child is so innocent. He can’t even defend himself.”

The judge in bond court on Friday was so concerned that the child might not survive that she raised bond for the defendant, Gabby Cancel Jr., to $251,000.

Police say the child is having trouble swallowing food and water.

Amid his own tears, the boy told investigators that his “mother’s babe” beat him on September inside their apartment at 152 N.W. South River Drive on Miami Beach.

The report says the boy told police that Cancel choked him and told him to put his hands up and then punched him “in the tummy.”

He also said Cancel told him that if he told his mother about the assault, Cancel would punch him again.

Police say he suffered blunt force trauma to the stomach and ruptured bowels. The child has two bruises on his lower abdomen and a large bruise on the middle of his back.

“The boy said the boyfriend told him to lift up his shirt and then he punched him severely in the stomach,” said Hernandez. “It caused severe bleeding and he lost four inches of his bowel. Detectives are shaking their heads.”

“What would possess someone to hurt a child and not only hurt him but he could have killed him very easily,” said Hernandez. “He’s not out of the woods yet. He is in intensive care and we pray he pulls through.”

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Cancel is charged with aggravated child abuse and the child’s mother, 25-year-old Mirta Alfonso, is charged as an Accessory After the Fact.

“She was very evasive and tried to cover up the crime and protect her boyfriend,” said Hernandez. “She confessed that she did not want her boyfriend to get into trouble. She knew he had been in trouble before and she did not want to lost custody of her child to DCF.”

Her son is in DCF custody, pending future hearings and Alfonso is being held on $11,000 bond and was ordered by the Judge to stay away from her son.

Police say the incident happened on September 4th on Miami Beach. Two days later, they say, Cancel and Alfonso moved to an apartment at 1879 N.W. 23rd St. in Miami.

They were arrested six days later, on September 12th.

A police report says Cancel fled down a staircase but tripped and fell and was taken into custody and denied the charges against him.

A check of records shows that Cancel has been arrested before, for cocaine possession last June and for violating his probation in April of 2008. Records show he also served time in prison for robbery with a gun.

In bond court, a police detective testified that the child was terrified.

“He’s having nightmares,” said the detective. “He identified him (Cancel) and when he did that he started crying hysterically.”


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Peter D'Oench