updated 5/26/2007 4:44:44 PM ET 2007-05-26T20:44:44

A man beat his girlfriend’s 4-year-old son to death after she left the boy in his care while she was deployed to Iraq, police said.

A judge denied bond on Saturday for Donell Parker, 23, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Cameron Smith. Parker was charged Friday, a day after the boy was found dead in his bed in a suburb south of Chicago.

Judge Frank Castiglione said at Saturday’s bail hearing that Parker showed a “wanton disrespect for human life.” Prosecutors told the court the boy suffered multiple rib fractures, damaged internal organs and swelling around his brain.

Parker told police he beat the boy, but would not say why, said Calumet City police Chief Patrick O’Meara.

Parker’s lawyer, Marcos Reyes, said his client denied all the charges.

Cameron was punched in the head, stomach and chest, and whipped with a belt from Tuesday to Wednesday evening, O’Meara said. An autopsy found he died of blunt-force trauma to the abdomen and head, O’Meara said.

The boy’s 7-year-old sister and 8-year-old brother had also been in Parker’s care, and they were unhurt, O’Meara said. They were put in the custody of their maternal grandparents after Cameron was found dead.

The boy’s paternal grandmother in Columbus, Ga., said she was shocked.

“I just can’t believe the baby was beat to death,” Sherry Smith told the Chicago Tribune. “It hurts me because we weren’t there to protect him.”

Cameron’s mother, Sgt. Lavada Smith, 28, was headed back to Illinois Friday after spending only ten hours at her new duty station in Iraq.

She was called to active duty in April with her Army National Guard unit and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., on May 12 in preparation for deployment, said Lt. Col. Alicia Tate-Nadeau, an Illinois National Guard spokeswoman.

Family members said Cameron’s father, Gary Smith Jr., 27, had been deployed to Iraq last August and last saw his three children on a brief leave in January. O’Meara said the children’s parents were separated.

Family members said the Smiths had been married for eight years, and had both been in the military most of that time. O’Meara said Lavada Smith had apparently been living with Parker for about a year.

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