A 12-year-old suspended from school for fighting killed a 10-month-old baby by throwing him to the floor at a home where several young children were unsupervised, officials said Wednesday.
The preteen boy, whom authorities won’t name because of his age, was charged as a juvenile with capital murder. A judge Wednesday ordered him held in juvenile detention.
The 10-month old, Deandre Washington, was injured on March 12 and died two days later at a hospital, said Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin.
Authorities still are trying to determine how many children were in the house in a working class section of southeast Houston when the mothers of the two sets of siblings left them alone. They also don’t yet know whether the 12-year-old, who was the oldest in the group, was specifically left in charge.
Children Involved in Violence
Other Incidents of Children Involved in Violence
The boy was not in school that day because he had been suspended for fighting.
“It’s not clear whether the mothers told the 12-year-old, ‘You are in charge,’ and left with the intention of coming back. He would have been the oldest so more than likely you would think he would be in charge,” Olguin said.
The 12-year-old has nine siblings, and all but two live with their mother, Tawanna Scott. Deandre’s mother has three other children.
The two mothers came home after the 12-year-old boy called them to say Deandre was not breathing, Olguin said. She said the other children witnessed the 12-year-old throw the baby to the floor.
Deandre suffered two skull fractures and bleeding in multiple organs.
Scott, the 12-year-old’s mother, told Houston television station KHOU-TV that police told her the boy confessed, but that her son denied that to her. She also insisted that if he did throw the baby, it was an accident.
CPS has not taken custody of any of the two mothers’ children. It is legal to leave children alone as long as one child is 12 or older.
If convicted, the boy could receive a maximum 40-year prison sentence, probation or commitment to the Texas Youth Commission system, said Bill Moore, the chief of the juvenile division for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
The minimum age to be certified as an adult in Texas is 14.
“We will get all the information we can on the facts of the case and at that point we will get together and decide if we should present it to a grand jury or go to juvenile court and we’re not there yet,” Moore said
The family of a 12-year-old boy accused of killing an infant by throwing him to the floor believes that the baby’s seven-year-old brother is responsible for the death, a family spokesman said Thursday.
Minister Johnny Jeremiah, a spokesman for Tawanna Scott and her 12-year-old son, said the seven-year-old was holding Deandre Washington and threw the crying 10-month-old down the stairs of the southeast Houston house, where authorities said several young children were left alone.
The older boy was in another room playing a game at the time, Jeremiah said.
“The 12-year-old picked up the baby and put him on the couch,” he said. “When the baby stopped breathing, he called his mother.”
Deandre died two days later at a hospital. His injuries included two skull fractures, bleeding in the brain and various internal injuries.
The 12-year-old, who has not been named because of his age, is being held on a charge of capital murder. He is not eligible for the death penalty but could face up to 40 years in prison if convicted.
Jeremiah said the other children who were in the house at the time, all Deandre’s siblings, have said it was the seven-year-old who threw the baby but that the family has tried to keep that quiet.
Child Protective Services officials have said the other kids saw the 12-year-old boy throw the baby on the floor. An agency spokeswoman did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press.
Deandre’s mother, Shemika Brown, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. Scott said Thursday that she wanted her son to come home “because he didn’t do it.”
“We will investigate all relevant evidence in this case, determine its credibility and take the appropriate action,” said Donna Hawkins, a spokeswoman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.