A 9-year-old boy has been charged with first degree murder after he allegedly beat 14-month-old Taquan Willis to death on Aug. 26, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
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The 9-year-old was staying with relatives at a home in Cahokia, Mo., at the time of the baby’s death. Reportedly, the 14-month-old and the baby were sleeping in the same room where the 9-year-old allegedly committed the murder. There is no reported motive behind why St. Clair County prosecutors believe the 9-year-old killed the baby.
Little Taquan was eulogized on Saturday. According to LakeExpo.com, family members who attended Taquan’s funeral are not sure what exactly happened on the night he died. But they did give LakeExpo.com an account of when they realized something was wrong:
Relatives say he was in the home with his two brothers, ages 2 and 3, and a friend of his mother’s, along with her boyfriend, a 12-year-old boy and the 9-year-old charged in Taquan’s death.
Johnson’s aunt, Jessica Jackson, said the 9-year-old boy is a relative of Melissa Wilbourn, whom family members say Johnson had lived with for about a month.
Jackson said Wilbourn told relatives she heard a groaning sound and went to check on the kids, who were in a back room, asleep on the floor. She went back to bed, then heard the sound again and went back into the room and called out to Taquan.
“She said she picked him up and he was limp,” Jackson said.
Jackson said Wilbourn said she told her boyfriend something was wrong with Taquan and called 911. Taquan was then taken to a hospital, she said.
Jackson said she knows the 9-year-old and doesn’t think he would have beaten Taquan to death. Wilbourn could not be reached for comment Saturday.
Alisha Johnson, the 9-year-old’s mother, nicknamed him “King Quan ” and that is how she referred to him during his funeral on Saturday, LakeExpo.com reports.
“He was just a happy baby,” she said. “He would bring a lot of joy to you. He smiled and danced.” She said “SpongeBob SquarePants” was his favorite television show.
She was out with friends when she got a call that Taquan was in the hospital. He never regained consciousness. Alisha says that she had only known Wilbourn a year and has not spoken to him since the day Taquan died.
The 9-year-old boy cannot be charged, by law, as an adult. The case is pending in juvenile court.