Fresno 5-year-old's description of little brother's death could doom dad

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno father faces charges for the murder of his 3-year-old son last year. And the most incriminating evidence may come from his other son.

Little Zion Nelson's cause of death was fatal child abuse syndrome as a result of blunt force injuries all over his body. And coroners could tell he'd suffered -- not just on the day he died, but on other days as well.

Just the description of the injuries Zion Nelson suffered brought Moneesha Camp to tears. As Donald Nelson's girlfriend, she was like a mother to Zion and his 5-year-old brother. But she wasn't there when police found Nelson parked on the side of a Central Fresno street; Zion dead in the back seat. Officers say Nelson admitted to spanking the boy for defecating himself right there on the street.

"He questioned his actions why did he spank the child and he said it was his fault," said Fresno police officer Ron Flowers.

But that's not what Zion's 5-year-old brother told investigators. He had old injuries of his own when they talked to him and said his dad asked him to lie about what happened. But he told investigators both Nelson and Camp occasionally beat him and his brother with hangers, belts and a wire. The boy said the whole family was at their apartment the night before Zion's death. He remembered hearing a whipping sound and screams coming from his brother. And then it stopped.

"Zion was put in the shower," said Fresno police detective Ignacio Ruiz. "The water was running and he said they were trying to wake him up."

The shower didn't revive Zion and his brother never saw him alive again.

"He saw his dad move Zion to the living room where he laid him on the floor naked and he was not moving," Ruiz said.

Neighbors told police they often heard what sounded like child abuse coming from Nelson and Camp's apartment, but they didn't report anything to police until after Zion's death.

A judge will decide Thursday whether there's enough evidence for a murder trial against both Nelson and Camp.

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