2 charged with 'beating' of 12-year-old boy in Venice

A Venice man and woman were charged with hitting a 12-year-old boy with a belt and spoon on the legs, arm, butt, back and torso, according to Madison County charging documents.

Demetrius Fuller, 25, and Malissa Phillips, 29, were charged Thursday with aggravated battery to a child in connection to the alleged abuse.

In cases like this, the difference between a spanking punishment and a level of harm that could lead to criminal charges comes down to the severity of the hits and the way it was done, said Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons.

"When you use an object, a belt and especially in this case, a kitchen spoon, that certainly is something that is of great concern, because these objects have the ability to cause injuries," Gibbons said.

Gibbons said he was not able to elaborate on the extent of the injuries the 12-year-old received, but said it was "far beyond the regular norm of parent discipline."

"There's a great difference between a spanking and a beating," he said.

The pair's children are all in protective custody, Gibbons said. Neither Fuller nor Phillips have a prior criminal record in Madison County.