DENHAM SPRINGS - Sheriff Jason Ard said some or all of a Livingston Parish woman's three young children may have witnessed her being beaten to death by her boyfriend overnight.

Deputies arrested Jerry Pinestraw Jr., 37, on suspicion of killing Nicole Ozment, 29, at their Denham Springs residence.

Sheriff Ard said all three of Ozment's children are in protective custody and safe at this time. He said neighbors originally called deputies around 7:30 a.m. Tuesday to tell them the children were all right, but their mother was dead.

Investigators said it appeared Ozment had been beaten to death with a pipe. Detectives said they believe Pinestraw beat Ozment and killed her after a verbal argument got physical.

Detectives charged Pinestraw with second-degree murder and three counts of child desertion. Ard said the desertion charges were for committing a crime in front of children younger than ten years old.

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