Police charged Carlos Rico, 22, with attempted capital murder Thursday after he abandoned his 4-year-old son on the side of Interstate 20 earlier this week.
The boy, Angel, spent several hours alone in the dark before a passing motorist spotted him and picked him up. He was then taken to a hospital where doctors removed at least 500 cactus spines from his body.
Rico's charge was elevated from child endangerment when it was learned he choked the boy before leaving him on the highway near Sweetwater.
Rico told Saginaw investigators that God told him to choke the boy and expel him from the car, Sweetwater police Chief Jim Kelley said. Kelley added that there was bruising on the boy's throat and that Rico had thrown "the boy out of the car like a bag of garbage."
The whereabouts of the boy's biological mother were not immediately known, and it was unclear if she is involved in his life.