An 8-year-old Alabama boy has been charged with murder for reportedly beating a 1-year-old girl to death, and the girl's mother has been charged with manslaughter after, police claim, she and a friend left the baby and four other children in the boy's care while they went to a nightclub.
"There are just too many deep-rooted issues in this horrific crime. It's extremely troubling from so many different angles, and there are no law-enforcement answers to prevent it,'' Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper told AL.com. "We've been concerned about the kids and the future effect on their lives. The bottom line is an innocent young baby lost her life, and that should be a wake-up call for our community."
According to CNN, on Oct. 10 Katerra Lewis, 26, left her baby, Kelci, in the care of five other children, themselves unattended, and the oldest of whom was 8, while she and a friend partied at a nightclub. They left the house around 11 p.m., and according to police, when Lewis returned around 2 a.m., she reportedly never checked in on her daughter.
Lewis awoke to find the baby unresponsive in her crib and called 911. The Jefferson County, Ala., coroner ruled the death a homicide, CNN reports.
Police claim that during the night, the 8-year-old boy became upset with the 1-year-old, who wouldn't stop crying, and "viciously attacked" the toddler, beating her to death.
"Kelci Lewis suffered severe head trauma and major internal organ damage, leading to her death," according to a police statement viewed by CNN.
Lewis has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, and the 8-year-old boy is in the custody of the Department of Human Resources, charged with murder.
"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," Lt. Sean Edwards said at a Tuesday news conference, WBRC reports.
The 8-year-old is the youngest person the Birmingham Police Department has ever charged with murder.
Edwards noted that if the mother is found guilty of manslaughter, her possible jail sentence would be the least of her problems. "I think her punishment is going to be something she'll have to live with the rest of her life: her actions that night," Edwards said, according to CNN. "Choosing the club over taking care of her 1-year-old."