- Associated Press - Thursday, January 14, 2016

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - An Alabama judge on Thursday dismissed a reckless manslaughter charge against a woman in a case in which police said her infant daughter was fatally beaten by a boy while she and a friend were at a club.

Jefferson County District Court Judge Shelly Watkins said in an order that probable cause doesn’t exist to support the charge against 26-year-old Katerra Lewis.

Police have said Lewis and a friend left the 8-year-old boy to babysit five younger children while they went out in October and that the boy beat 1-year-old Kelci Lewis to death when she wouldn’t stop crying. The boy’s identity hasn’t been released and prosecutors have said his case is being handled in the juvenile court system and is being kept confidential.

Police said in court documents that Lewis left her daughter in the care of another child she knew was violent or under conditions in which the girl wouldn’t be protected from abuse. She and the boy’s mother were together at the time of the assault, police have said.

Lewis was not involved in her daughter’s death, attorney Emory Anthony said. The lawyer added that Watkins has told prosecutors they could still bring the case before a grand jury for potential indictment on their own if they choose.



Anthony said charging Lewis in the girl’s death doesn’t make legal sense because she wasn’t involved in the attack and didn’t conspire with the boy, who has already been charged with intentionally killing the infant.

However, University of Alabama associate law professor Jenny Carroll has said that moves to charge Lewis with manslaughter could have been a potential strategy to instruct a jury to consider convicting Lewis of a lesser charge of child neglect during a trial if the manslaughter case isn’t strong enough.

A phone call and an email to the district attorney’s office weren’t immediately returned.

A 6-year-old witness said the boy slammed the infant against a dresser and bit her, Anthony said. Kelci was put back into her crib after the assault, and no one reported that she was unresponsive until the following morning, police have said.

Authorities said the infant suffered severe head trauma and major damage to her internal organs.

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