A 32-year-old Ocala man charged with child abuse for choking and burning a child with a cigarette said it was an accident and he was only playing around.
The male victim, whose age was withheld, told a Marion County sheriff’s deputy he and two of his friends were walking past Kojo Albert Morris’ residence at 4425 NE 25th Terrace at around 6:25 p.m. Thursday when Morris started chasing after him. He said Morris grabbed him by his backpack and placed his hands around his neck, according to the sheriff’s office report.
The victim said he struggled to breathe while Morris had his hands around him. He said at that point Morris burned his right thumb with a cigarette. The deputy observed a round burn mark on the victim’s right thumb, the report said.
A juvenile friend of the victim said she saw Morris chase after the victim and put his arm around the victim’s neck and shoulder. The victim said she didn’t see Morris intentionally burn the victim with a cigarette but confirmed he was holding one, according to the report.
Contacted at his residence and read his Miranda warning, Morris said the victim tried walking past him on the street and Morris did a “football move” toward the victim. He said the victim started running away and he grabbed him from behind, the report said.
Morris said he didn’t intentionally hurt the victim and was only playing around. He said he was holding a cigarette when he grabbed the victim and accidentally burned him, according to the report.
Morris was charged with child abuse without great bodily harm and taken to the Marion County Jail, where he was released Friday on $2,000 bond. He’s due to appear in Marion County Court on Dec. 15.