A metro Atlanta man is in jail after neighbors said he beat a 4-year-old because the boy didn't spell his name correctly.
Anthony Burgess, who made his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon, asked for a court-appointed lawyer and remains in jail.
Police said he beat his girlfriend's son with a belt so hard that the child's skin split open.
One neighbor was surprised at the allegations.
“Ever hear of anything? No, they were pretty quiet. They usually stay inside,” Lenny Barbaro said.
Another neighbor, who declined to be identified, said she heard it all.
"I heard a man's voice cursing and telling the kid to shut up over and over and over," she said.
She said the beating continued for 15 to 20 minutes – so loud she could hear it from across the street. In a police report, the boy’s mother told him that "her son could not write his name down properly and gave her an attitude,” so that's why Burgess began striking him.
“That’s what the man kept yelling. He kept saying ‘You’re going to write this. You’re going to write this. You’re going to sit here and write this, and you’re not that hurt.’ Those were his exact words,” the neighbor said.
Police said they also noticed signs of previous beatings.