An 8-year-old boy has been charged with murder in the death of a 1-year-old girl who was left without adult supervision while the mothers went out for the night, police in Birmingham, Alabama, said.
Police say the boy “viciously attacked” the toddler because she would not stop crying, reports WBRC. Kelci Devine Lewis reportedly died from severe head trauma and internal organ damage.
“This is one of the most heartbreaking investigations that I have seen in over 30 years of my law enforcement career,” Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper told AL.com.
The girl’s mother, Katerra Lewis, 26, has been charged with manslaughter in the case.
“The sad part is you had an adult mother here who had the audacity to leave her 1-year-old in the custody of several other children at the house and none of those kids were over the age of 8,” Birmingham Police Lt. Sean Edwards said at a Nov. 10 news conference.
Edwards said Lewis left her daughter with at least five other children “to go out to the club for that night” with a friend who owned the house and is the mother of the other children.
Lewis’ attorney, Emory Anthony, questions the manslaughter charge.
“The manslaughter statute deals with someone's action, as far as, acting in the heat of passion or acting in a reckless manner, not a person allowing some other person to act in a dangerous manner,” Anthony told WRBC.
“I think they are trying to allege that she was reckless or negligent in some particular way, and we'll have to deal with that,” he said. “Of course my client has a different story about what transpired.”
The 8-year-old boy is in the custody of the Department of Human Resources, AL.com reports. His name has not been released.
Lewis turned herself in at the Jefferson County Jail Nov. 9 and was released on $15,000 bail less than two hours later. Edwards told WBRC she has been cooperative.
He also said the family court system will likely decide what happens next for the 8-year-old and expected it would include intervention and intensive counseling.
Criminal defense attorney Clayton Tartt told WBRC it was unlikely the child would be tried as an adult. Once court proceedings are over he could be sent to a detention facility or remain in DHR custody, Tartt said.
The other children in the house at the time of the alleged crime are also in DHR custody, WBRC reports.