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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A woman charged in the death of her infant daughter — who authorities say was killed by an 8-year-old boy — disputes allegations that she left the children home alone, her attorney said Wednesday.

Police say Katerra Marsha Lewis, 26, and a friend left the 8-year-old boy to watch over five younger children while the women went to a nightclub. The boy beat Kelci Lewis to death last month when she wouldn’t stop crying and placed her back in her crib as if she were asleep, police said.

The boy was charged with murder in juvenile court and placed into the custody of child welfare workers, Birmingham Police spokesman Sean Edwards said. The infant’s mother faces a manslaughter charge.

Legal experts say the case will be challenging on several fronts because of the boy’s age.

University of Alabama associate law professor Jenny Carroll said in many jurisdictions, children under the age of 10 or 12 are presumed not to have the capacity to form criminal intent and have difficulty understanding court proceedings.

“We recognize that children don’t have the same thought processes and don’t have fully developed decision-making processes at that age,” said Carroll, who has represented juvenile offenders.

Yet children as young as the Birmingham boy have been convicted in killings.

In 2009, an Arizona boy pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the fatal shootings of his father and a man who rented a room in the family’s home. He was 8 at the time of the shootings. The boy was sentenced to indefinite treatment at a residential facility and probation until he’s 18.

Alabama is one of about three dozen states that have no minimum age for children to be prosecuted in juvenile court, according to Marsha Levick, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center. She was only aware of a handful of cases involving children younger than 12 who were charged with murder.

Levick said the case would be best handled by the child welfare system, not the juvenile justice system, because the boy would be more likely to get the necessary psychological and educational help.

“The juvenile justice system has almost nothing to offer him,” she said.

Bryan Stevenson of the Montgomery-based group Equal Justice Initiative questioned the way the boy has been characterized. Police have called the assault “vicious.”

“What I’m really concerned about is assigning to this boy all of these evil, and vicious and adult-like characteristics when we’re talking about an 8-year-old child,” Stevenson said. “This is about neglect, abuse. It’s about the way we fail to help our children in the most vulnerable situations. It’s not about an 8-year old murderer.”

The infant’s mother is charged with reckless manslaughter on accusations that she caused Kelci’s death Oct. 11 by leaving her in the care of another child that she knew was violent or under conditions where the girl wouldn’t be protected from abuse. Her lawyer said she told him otherwise.

“I know they’re saying she left her child there without any type of adult supervision, but that’s not what she’s saying,” Lewis’s attorney Emory Anthony said. “Right now we’re just trying to find out what they have,” Anthony said, declining further comment before Lewis’s preliminary hearing.

Charging the girl’s mother with manslaughter could be strategic so that a jury could be instructed to also consider child abuse or neglect, Carroll.

“They could convict her on a lesser offense, they can’t go the other way though,” she said.

The boy’s mother hasn’t been charged.

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17 thoughts on “Mother Of Child Slain By 8-Year-Old Denies She Left Kids Alone To Go To Club

  1. Miss UK on said:

    How on earth did this happen??
    I bet the 8 year old is a victim of regular physical abuse, so did the same to the 1year old.
    – When did our black families become places where children are not safe, so dysfunctional that when someone dies is when people say something??
    I am disgusted!!!
    – I am not saying anywhere is better, as sadly this seems to be the norm for us worldwide, feckless, lazy parenting, just enough to get on by.
    I cant wait to hear this woman’s story, I shan’t call her a Mother, as she has not earned that title, having a child is only the start.
    ** Watch Storyville: Dreamcatchers, surviving the streets of Chicago. BB4 on BBCiplayer.
    Deeply moving yet inspiring.

  2. Christiansbereal on said:

    Yes, I’d like to know why the mother of the 8 year old isn’t being charged, also. And if the baby’s mother did not go to the cub, then where was she. Was she in the house or are we talking semantics? ‘No, I didn’t leave my baby to go to the club. I went to the corner store!’ Point is, your 1 year old child was left in the house with a bunch of young children and not in the care of a RESPONSIBLE adult. Both parents should be charged and the boy should needs Psychiatric help.


  4. Michelle on said:

    “In 2009, an Arizona boy pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the fatal shootings of his father and a man who rented a room in the family’s home. He was 8 at the time of the shootings. The boy was sentenced to indefinite treatment at a residential facility and probation until he’s 18.”

    Why could there be no lesser charge such as negligent homicide for this Alabama 8 year old instead of murder? Confederate state perhaps?

    • specialt757 on said:

      “Why could there be no lesser charge such as negligent homicide for this Alabama 8 year old …”
      Could be that or could be the color of his skin. After it’s all said and done, I home they do consider a lesser charge rather than murder. And that’s not to say the baby’s life doesn’t matter, but that this kid really doesn’t have the mental capacity to fully understand his actions.

    • Timekeeeper on said:

      There are some distinct differences. Especially the fact that this boy in Arizona went and got a gun and purposefully pulled the trigger. In this case, ( although I am speculating) is that he simply hit this baby too hard. But aside from all of that, What was so friggin important at the club?!

    • Or perhaps Michelle, it’s because he beat this baby so viciously that he caused internal damage to her internal organs, in addition to sever head injuries. Do you know how hard and how long he had to beat this baby to cause this type of damage? And then he laid her in her crib to try to make it seem as if she was sleeping.

    • specialt757 on said:

      Okay I have a theory. The 8 year old’s mother is not the “friend” who left with the baby’s mother, so she had no knowledge that her son was left alone with the other six children. In that case, she would not be responsible. That’s the only thing that makes a little sense to me, but of course I could be wrong.

  5. An eight year old is a child himself, so maybe she should’ve considered finding someone older and more mature to babysit for her.

    It’s all a moot point now, since the infant was beaten to death.

    Poor Parenting is at fault here!!!!!!

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