Man beats 3-year-old daughter to death over failed math lesson, police say

A Mississippi man is charged with capital murder after he was accused of beating his toddler daughter to death over the weekend when she failed to get her numbers right during a math lesson, police said.

Joshua Salovich, 25, of Meridian, was initially charged with felony child abuse, but the charges were upgraded after 3-year-old Bailey Salovich died.

A Meridian detective testified in court Monday that Salovich explained his discipline of his daughter during questioning.

"The streets are hard. For her to survive, she has to be hard, too," Salovich said, according to the Meridian Star.

The Star reported that police were called on Friday when Bailey was brought into a local hospital with life-threatening injuries. The girl was flown to Jackson for treatment of injuries including bleeding on her brain, a detached retina and lungs that were filling with blood.

Meridian detective Kevin Boyd testified Monday that Bailey also had a swollen abdomen, a head wound and bruises, welts and cuts on her legs and buttocks, the Star reported.

The girl died of her injuries Saturday.

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Salovich told investigators that he was teaching Bailey her numbers when the beating took place, Boyd said.

"She apparently did not want to participate and get the correct numbers," Boyd testified, according to the Star. "He said he would pop her with his hands on her butt and legs when she got a wrong answer. (He said he) backhanded her several times in the stomach because she kept getting it wrong."

When the toddler soiled herself, Salovich grabbed a bamboo lash and beat her with that, Boyd told the court. When the lash broke, he then used a heavy phone charging cord, according to testimony.

Salovich admitted to hitting her with the lash and cord as hard as he could, the Star reported.

WTOK in Meridian reported that Bailey's mother was in another room, with the door closed and the television on, at the time of the beating. She has not been charged in the girl's death.

The mother, who wept during the court hearing Monday, fainted as she and family members left the courtroom, the news station said.

Meridian police Chief Benny Dubose told WTOK that the mother would have faced charges if she had been in the same room or aware of the beating as it was happening.

Dubose said that investigators indicated Salovich expressed some remorse when he learned that his daughter had died.

"Whether it was genuine or not, I don't know," Dubose said.

Dubose told the Star that the weekend beating death was the first time the department had encountered Salovich. The chief said that while he understands a parent becoming frustrated or losing their temper, violence against a child is never okay.

"That is no excuse, in my opinion, for this sort of action against a child," Dubose said.

Salovich is being held without bail in the Lauderdale County Detention Facility.