Monday, April 24, 2006

Prince George’s County authorities yesterday charged a 12-year-old District Heights boy with first-degree murder in the Sunday beating and stabbing deaths of his mother and younger brother.

The boy, whose name was not released because of his age, was charged as a juvenile. In Maryland, juveniles younger than 14 cannot be tried as adults.

“As a juvenile, if it is found he is involved [in the killings], the longest he could spend in detention is until his 21st birthday,” said Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.

During a brief hearing yesterday in Upper Marlboro, Circuit Court Judge Melanie Shaw Geter ordered the 12-year-old to be held at the Boys Village juvenile facility in Cheltenham until the next hearing May 15. The boy is thought to be the state’s youngest homicide suspect.

Prosecutors said the 12-year-old’s father was on his way yesterday to Maryland from North Carolina. It was not known whether he also is the father of the victim.

No relatives attended the boy’s hearing.

Police were summoned at 10:45 a.m. Sunday to a second-floor apartment at the Penn Mar Apartments in the 3700 block of Donnell Drive in District Heights. They found the bodies of Katrina Denise Powe, 31, and her younger son, Mystery Toma Hillian, 9. They apparently had been stabbed and bludgeoned, police said.

A coroner was conducting autopsies to determine the cause of the deaths.

Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a police spokesman, said officers found a metal “club” at the scene that they think is a murder weapon.

“Right now, we don’t know what the motive is,” he said, adding that he did not know who called police to the apartment building.

Police questioned the boy, who implicated himself in the slayings, and arrested him, Cpl. Copeland said.

The brothers attended Benjamin D. Foulois Elementary School in Suitland. The older boy is in the sixth grade, and the 9-year-old was in the second grade.

“A lot of kids knew them,” said John White, a spokesman for Prince George’s County Public Schools. “This is a situation where two boys at this school were very popular and had a lot of friends.”

Yesterday, the family’s neighbors at Penn Mar Apartments expressed shock and sorrow over the deaths and the boy’s arrest. Many asked not to be identified.

“The 9-year-old boy was just out playing the other day,” said a woman who was out pushing her mother in a wheelchair. “We are just trying to figure it all out.”

Two bouquets of flowers and several balloons, one of which was shaped like a football, were placed in front of the apartment.

“My grandchildren were close to [the two boys],” said another woman, who would identify herself only as Ms. Daniels. “It is a real shock.”

The apartment complex is quiet and peaceful, with playgrounds for children and a large grassy common area that residents call “the courtyard.”

A neighbor who lives across from Mrs. Powe’s apartment said the younger boy often would come over to play with her little dog, Jiggie.

“It is usually very quiet here,” she said. “That is one of the things that brought me here five years ago.”

In 1999, a 14-year-old was charged and tried as an adult in two killings in the county. Travis Lionel Savoy was found guilty of shooting former classmate Dominick Hiers, 16, and pizza deliveryman Javier Castillo, 33.

Savoy, whose 14th birthday fell on Dec. 31, 1998, is reported to be the youngest person tried as an adult for murder in Prince George’s County. He is serving life in prison plus 40 years.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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