Fla. Man Pleads No Contest in Toddler Beating Death

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BARTOW, Fla. (AP) -- A central Florida man faces up to 15 years in prison for beating his toddler stepson to death.

As part of a deal with Polk County prosecutors, 31-year-old Marcus Brown pleaded no contest to manslaughter Thursday. The Ledger reports that he was previously tried for first-degree murder, but jurors couldn't reach a verdict. A new trial had been scheduled to begin this month.

Authorities say Brown repeatedly beat 2-year-old Deondray Ashe with a belt during potty training. Rescue workers responded to the Lakeland home in June 2010 and found the boy dead.

The boy's mother, Ina Brown, was sentenced to 10 years in prison last spring for failing to protect the boy. She acknowledged that she had hit the boy in the past but not the day he died.

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