A Camp Lejeune Marine accused of breaking four of a toddler's ribs and leaving him with two black eyes had his first appearance in court Thursday.
Corporal Zachary Marshall Hawkins, 21, faces two counts of intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury.
The toddler is "just so innocent," said Amanda Gutierrez, who lives in Hawkins' apartment complex. "That's the problem with this. He's just so innocent. He's done nothing wrong, and he's brand new to this world. He doesn't deserve that.
Warrants show that this incident happened mid December while the 3-year-old boy was under Hawkins' care. The documents show the toddler is Hawkins' step son. According to Hawkins' attorney, Jason Hegg, the child is doing well.
Hawkins "should be looking out for him," Gutierrez said. "He should be caring for him as if he is his own. This baby had this trust in him, and he just destroyed that."
NewsChannel 12 went to Hawkins address and talked to his cousin.
"He's innocent," she said. "By all means, he's innocent. He's an amazing person, and an amazing father."
Court records indicate Hawkins also faces a number of drug-related charges out of Duplin County, including trafficking hydrocodone, possession of marijuana and cocaine, maintaining in vehicle/dwelling/place, possession of drug paraphernalia and manufacturing cocaine.
Beulaville police say they were doing a routine patrol when they found Hawkins alone in a "suspicious vehicle." When they searched his car, they say they found the drugs. Police say that during questioning, Hawkins had said he had a military protective order against him, and he wasn't allowed to contact his wife.
The court system shows he's due in court in June for the drug charges.
Hawkins was arrested on those charges on February 14th; he spent four days in jail before bonding out.
Court records show Hawkins remains in the Onslow County jail with a $150,000 bond.