Father and Step-Mother Arrested in Beating of Five-Year-Old

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PHOENIX — A Mesa man has been arrested after telling police that he regularly beat his 5-year-old daughter with a military belt and a computer cord because she was disobedient.

Ezra Emanuel Hazell, 29, was taken into custody Tuesday and the girl's stepmother, Kristie Marie Hazell, 25, also was arrested on suspicion of child abuse, according to police.

Ezra Hazell faces five counts of child abuse and was being held on a $10,000 bond, police said Thursday.

Kristie Hazell is facing two counts of child abuse but has been released from jail.

The family moved to Mesa from Austin, Texas, in March.

Authorities said Ezra Hazell admitted beating his daughter while she was in a push-up position with her pants down because she wasn't doing her homework.

The girl had nearly 100 bruises on her back, legs, arms, buttocks and chest, and investigators called it one of the five worst cases they have handled, Mesa police spokeswoman Diana Tapia said.

The probe began after the girl told her teacher and school nurse that her father and stepmother beat her with a belt almost daily, police records show.

The victim and two other girls in the home, ages 4 and 4 months, now are in Child Protective Services custody. The younger girls were not injured, police said.