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Father charged with killing toddler for disturbing football game

December 17, 1996

DALLAS (AP) _ A 3-year-old boy died after his father punched him several times in the stomach for making too much noise during a televised Dallas Cowboys football game, police said.

James Thornton III suffered a ruptured kidney and liver and died in surgery Monday.

His father, 25-year-old James Thornton II, was charged with injury to a child, and police said it may be upgraded to capital murder. He was in jail in lieu of $25,000 bail.

Thornton apparently became angry with his son for jumping around during the third quarter of the Cowboys’ 12-6 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday, police said.

After hitting the child three or four times, Thornton put him in bed, police said.

The boy’s mother, Tonia McCarver, said that when she came to pick up her child from the rare visit to see his father, she found James unconscious in the bedroom.

``He told me that little James was sick,″ Ms. McCarver told The Dallas Morning News. ``I knew something was wrong when I saw him lying in the bed with his eyes half-closed. He did not respond.″

Ms. McCarver, who is not married to Thornton, said she had been suspicious of Thornton since the child suffered a broken arm while in his care in 1994.

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