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story.lead_photo.caption Shomari Center Photo by Submitted to the Texarkana Gazette / Texarkana Gazette.

A father accused of murder in the death of his infant son appeared in court Monday for the first time since pleading not guilty last month.

Shomari Kevorkian Center Sr., 25, appeared Monday with Texarkana defense lawyer Jeff Harrelson for a pretrial hearing before 202nd District Judge John Tidwell. Harrelson noted that he was appointed recently to the case and that he had "just received" some discovery or evidence in the case from the state and expected more to come.

When Center appeared last month for arraignment he was represented by a member of the Bowie County Public Defenders Office. An explanation for Harrelson's appointment was not given in court, though appointments are commonly made when public defenders discover they have a conflict because they already represent someone else with ties to the case. Center is the only person who has been charged in connection with the December 2018 death of his son, Shomari Center Jr.

First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp told the court she expected some additional evidence, including recorded interviews and crime-scene photos to be copied and ready for delivery to the defense later that day.

The case bgan when emergency responders were called Dec. 5 to the 1000 block of College Drive in Texarkana, Texas, regarding a baby who wasn't breathing. Center allegedly told police that he'd walked from his home in the 2800 block of Texas Boulevard to College looking for help.

Officers immediately started CPR and the unresponsive infant was taken to CHRISTUS St. Michael Health Center for treatment before being airlifted to Children's Medical Center in Little Rock. The 2-month-old died Dec. 9.

The Bowie County District Attorney's Office sought Center's indictment after a medical examiner's report received in mid-April ruled the death a homicide. The baby suffered from multiple rib fractures in various stages of healing, a sign that the child suffered abuse on more than one occasion. The child died of a brain injury caused by blunt force trauma.

Court records show that Center was arrested by TTPD for a family violence assault March 31 and released April 2 on a $3,000 personal recognizance bond. Center's bail is set at $1 million on the murder charge.

If convicted of murder in the death of his infant son, Center faces five to 99 years or life in prison. Tidwell scheduled the case for another pretrial hearing next month. A date for trial has not been set.

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