A 12-year-old boy is being charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of his 2-year-old foster sibling, Prince George's County police said Thursday.
Two-year-old Aniyah Batchelor was "repeatedly" beaten and died from blunt-force trauma on Tuesday, county police spokeswoman Julie Parker said. Her death was ruled a homicide Wednesday after an autopsy.
The 12-year-old boy has not been named because he has been charged as a juvenile rather than an adult.
Given the boy's age and the degree of the criminal charge, it does not appear that he could currently have his case waived out of juvenile court.
"When you are 13 or under, you automatically go to juvenile court," said John Erzen, a spokesman for the Prince George's County State's Attorney's Office. "You can only be waived up if you are charged with first-degree murder. As of this point, he is charged with only second-degree murder but the investigation will continue."
The boy is currently being held at the Cheltenham Youth Facility.
A man who is the foster father of Aniyah and the biological father of the 12-year-old boy called police to his home in the 1800 block of Taylor Avenue in Fort Washington home around noon Tuesday after he came home to find the toddler unresponsive, Ms. Parker said. A 15-year-old sibling of the boy was overseeing supervision of the two children and a 4-year-old during the time police believe Aniyah was beaten.
According to a police source with knowledge of the case, the 15-year-old found Aniyah crying — apparently as a result of being hit in the chest and abdomen — and put her to bed. Later the 15-year-old went to check on the toddler, saw she was unresponsive and called the father.
"With the help of a 911 dispatcher, the father performed CPR but the child was take to a hospital and pronounced dead," Ms. Parker said.
Police do not believe any weapon was used in the beating and said the 12-year-old boy had not had any prior run-ins with law enforcement. Ms. Parker also confirmed that officers had not previously been called to the Fort Washington home for any reports of domestic violence.
Aniyah had been placed in the family's care as a result of a court-ordered ruling, Ms. Parker said.
A spokeswoman from the state's Department of Human Resources, which oversees foster care programs, said she could not discuss the specifics of the family's case or confirm how long Aniyah had been in foster care. She added that officials will be reviewing the family's case file to ensure the department's screening and placement policies were followed.
"We are reviewing everything that was involved," spokeswoman Elyn Jones said.
The last time a child so young was charged with murder in Prince George's County was in 2006, Ms. Parker said. According to reports from 2006, a 12-year-old Forestville boy was charged with two counts of first-degree murder for fatally stabbing his mother and 9-year-old brother with a knife and a pick ax. His case remained in juvenile court and he pleaded "involved," the juvenile equivalent of guilty.
It was believed at the time that the boy would be sentenced to a detention and treatment center in South Carolina until he turned 21. Prosecutors were unable to confirm Thursday whether that was the sentence handed down or whether he was still in custody.
More recently, a boy who was 13 years old when he murdered a teacher in 2010 at the Cheltenham Youth Facility was tried as an adult. Brian Lee Wonsom pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and attempted first-degree rape and was sentenced to 85 years in prison earlier this year.
© Copyright 2015 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.