Originally created 11/25/03

Couple charged in death of child



AIKEN - A Wagener woman and her common-law husband were charged with homicide by child abuse Monday in the death of her 8-year-old son.

Aiken County Sheriff Mike Hunt said Damon Marks, 27, and Tonetta Duvivier, 30, of Rawls Mill Pond Road, were arrested and charged after an early-morning blaze Sunday at the couple's mobile home killed Chanz Coleman, Ms. Duvivier's son.

An autopsy Monday showed that the boy died of smoke inhalation and burns, Aiken County Deputy Coroner Tim Carlton said. Chanz died near his bed in the 2:50 a.m. fire, shortly after Mr. Marks left the boy alone to pick up Ms. Duvivier from work.

"This child was left at home by himself," Sheriff Hunt said. "That never should have happened."

Investigators believe the kitchen stove was the source of the fire, said Lt. Michael Frank, the spokesman for the department. Mr. Marks told investigators he was preparing to cook a meal when Ms. Duvivier telephoned him for a ride home, Sheriff Hunt said.

Firefighters from the Wagener and New Holland volunteer fire departments fought the blaze and found the boy in his bedroom at the rear of the trailer, Lt. Frank said.

The couple moved to Wagener about six months ago, Aiken County Coroner Sue Townsend said.

Homicide by child abuse, a felony, carries a minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison, Lt. Frank said. The couple was being held Monday in the Aiken County Detention Center.

Reach Jim Nesbitt at (803) 648-1395 or jim.nesbitt@augustachronicle.com.