A hearing for a man accused of killing a 5-year-old Jackson County boy was postponed by a judge Monday.
Lonnie Belt, 41, is charged with beating the boy’s mother, Jessica Spoonamore Durham, and pushing her off an 80-foot cliff on Sept. 8, then bludgeoning James Spoonamore to death by hitting him in the head with a metal object.
Belt allegedly left Durham for dead and left James’ body nearby.
Belt was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Monday in Jackson County on charges of kidnapping the mother and son and beating Durham.
The charge of murdering James was added after searchers found the boy’s body two days after they found his mother.
Belt’s court-appointed attorney, Brian Barker, asked District Judge Henria Bailey-Lewis to hold a single preliminary hearing on all the charges.
Bailey-Lewis scheduled that hearing for Sept. 25. The purpose of the hearing is for the judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to forward Belt’s case to a grand jury for review and possible indictment.
Bailey-Lewis also entered a plea of not guilty for Belt on the charge of murdering James.
Belt’s bond is $1 million. He remains in the Jackson County jail.
After she was attacked, Jessica Durham spent the night in the woods at the base of the cliff because a broken pelvis and ankle injuries left her unable to walk.
Police said Belt confessed to bludgeoning James to death after he forced Durham over the cliff. The boy’s body was found in woods about six-tenths of a mile from his mother.
Durham, hospitalized at University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, recounted the horrific ordeal in an interview last week with the Herald-Leader.
She said Belt tricked her into going to the house where he was staying. Once inside, Belt repeatedly hit Durham on the head with a metal object. Despite bleeding profusely, she did not lose consciousness, which frustrated Belt, Durham said.
Belt drove Durham and James, who was in the back seat, to the area where he eventually pushed her off the cliff and killed the boy according to police reports and Durham.
Her husband, James’ stepfather, David Durham, described James as a hyper, loving boy who liked to help with anything his mother and stepfather were doing.
“If you even say hi, he wants to hug you, he wants to kiss you on the cheek,” Durham said.
James was a sweet boy, Jessica Durham said. He had manners, he said please and thank you, he shared and he loved school. His favorite subjects were art and reading.
“I read to him every day from the day he was born,” Jessica Durham said. “The kid loved books.”
His favorite was “The Little Engine that Could.”
James loved animals, especially his fish and his dog, Copper.