By Steve Large

ORANGEVALE (CBS13) — A 5-year-old Orangevale boy is being mourned as his mother and her boyfriend face charges in his murder.

It’s a severe case of alleged child abuse that has left family and friends stunned.

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A text message that was allegedly sent days before the child’s death describes using a leather belt to punish the child.

While the coroner hasn’t revealed the child’s cause of death, the district attorney says there’s enough evidence for a murder charge.

Family friends like Justice Scott lined the hallways outside of the courtroom where the boy’s mother, Jessica Prater, and her boyfriend appeared before a judge.

“Her son got killed by the person he trusted the most,” Scott said. “The one he loved the most.he was old enough to beg her to stop. and she didn’t.”

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Family friends say before her arrest, Prater described harsh punishments for Zack, including using a belt in the days leading up to his death.

“She’s told me that he was getting into their guns and losing things and they were getting irritated, so they had to spank him with a belt and that it left marks on him,” said Tiffany Guzman.

She shared a recent text exchange with Prater, reading “Zack’s tougher than I thought. That boy can take a spanking with a real leather belt and not shed a tear.”

Firefighters arrived at the family’s Orangevale home on a report of a drowning on Thursday and found Zack unresponsive with injuries to his body.

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The arraignment will continue in two weeks.