Kentucky Dad Pleads Not Guilty to Beating Baby Son to Death While Driving

Kentucky Dad Charged with Beating Baby Son to Death While Driving
Daniel Cox
Hardin County Detention Center/AP

08/11/2015 AT 03:30 PM EDT

A Kentucky man has been charged with beating his 4-month-old son to death last Thursday while driving.

Daniel Cox, 35, pleaded not guilty on Monday at his arraignment on a murder charge. A married couple driving behind Cox on a major highway saw him repeatedly striking his son, Jayceon Chrystie, who was seated in a baby seat in the backseat passenger seat.

When Cox returned Jayceon to his mother's house, he was not breathing and had no pulse, the police report says. His left eye was swollen shut, and his right cheek and head were also swollen, police said. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition but died two days later of "inflicted traumatic injury to the head," Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Robert Fraction told the Associated Press.

Britton Stevenson, the driver who witnessed the beating and called 911, told PEOPLE he first thought Cox "was an impaired driver. Every so often the driver would swerve into the right lane of the four-lane highway."

It wasn't until he got closer that Stevenson realized he was hitting something, and so he called 911.

"The force that he was putting upon that baby, these were backhand blows," Stevenson said.

He added that Cox "seemed to get off on what he was doing. He'd hit the baby a couple times, fix his hat, and then he'd bob his head to the music. And then he'd go back and give the baby carriage another ferocious shake."

Stevenson said he has had trouble sleeping since witnessing the beating. "I'm on the edge, thinking my PTSD is gonna kick in," he said. "I have a 5-year-old grandson. I'm trying to block this out, because I feel like I could've done something. Maybe hit the vehicle."

According to court documents obtained by the Associated Press, Jayceon's mother, Kimberly Ann Chrystie, called 911 as soon as she saw her son. The next day, she filed an order of protection for her son against his father, but Jayceon died the next day.

Several hours after Kimberly called 911, Cox was arrested at the Veterans Administration hospital, Radcliffe, Kentucky, Police Chief Jeff Cross told PEOPLE. He added that cops have "been told" Cox is a veteran.

Cross said cops are investigating any criminal history Cox may have had, but he said, "I haven't been made aware of anything too significant."

"Obviously, the community is in shock," Cross added. "It's something that takes on a different meaning. Crimes against adults are bad enough, but when adults commit crimes against babies, it's hard to imagine how people can do something like this to a child."

"They're the purest and most precious part of our society. We as adults, it seems, do something every day to taint their world, in small ways and in major ways."

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