Action News has uncovered new details in the death of three-year-old Zion Nelson, Including the first account of what his older brother told police.
The 5-year-old boy was known as the sensitive one in the family -- the one his mother says she thought she'd always have to stick up for. But now she says he's very aggressive. And as she fights for custody of the son who lived, she's also learning exactly what he saw happen to the one who died.
The story ended on a West Central Fresno street for Zion Nelson. His father called 911, police found him naked and lifeless, and CPR couldn't revive him.
Now the last chapter of the 3-year-old's life is coming into focus, in the form of his older brother's words in a search warrant.
"You know, he opens up and he says this stuff and it hurts," said Tiara Larson, who is the mother to both boys.
Her ex, Donald Nelson, is accused of murdering Zion, and in the warrant, police say he admitted to whipping the boy the night before calling for help.
Officers seized several cords and other possible weapons from the home Nelson shared with Moneesha Camp, who's also charged with murder.
In the search warrant, investigators say Zion's 5-year-old brother described his father beating Zion with coat hangers and colored wire. And even though he said Camp also beat him, ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says that may not make her a murderer.
"Unless this 5-year-old boy can say she participated in those beatings that caused the death, it's going to be difficult for the government to prove a murder case against her," Capozzi said.
Doctors reported Zion Nelson had older injuries to go along with the recent ones that killed him. For Larson, that's a heartbreaking discovery. Nelson was convicted of beating her a few years ago, but she'd hoped he was sparing the boys. She says the aftermath is a lifetime of emotional trauma for those who live on.
"Nobody can even talk about Donald in front of (the 5-year-old) because he'll wet his pants," she said. "He's that scared."
Our cameras haven't been allowed to show Nelson and Camp in court, but an Action News reporter has seen Nelson crying throughout most of his hearings so far. And Nelson has said out loud that he's responsible for his son's death, not Moneesha Camp. They're both due back in court in three weeks.