A 12-year-old boy accused of beating his 2-year-old foster sister to death in Fort Washington on July 3 took an involuntary manslaughter plea Wednesday at a Prince George’s County Circuit Court hearing.
The juvenile, whose name is not being revealed since he’s being charged as a juvenile, took an Alford plea for involuntary manslaughter in the death of Aniyah Batchelor as family members attending the hearing fought back tears.
An Alford plea means the juvenile is not admitting to the criminal act, but acknowledges that prosecutors could find him guilty on his most serious offense of second-degree murder and therefore agrees to take the plea for involuntary manslaughter.
Circuit Court Judge Sherrie L. Krauser explained to the boy that he is opting for the plea so that he can avoid facing the second-degree murder charges, but added because of the plea, his lawyers will not have the ability to call upon witnesses or object to any presented evidence in the case.
On July 3 in the 1800 block of Taylor Avenue in Fort Washington, the juvenile was home with his 15-year-old sister, 4-year-old sister and Batchelor when 911 was called and responding officers found Batchelor dead from blunt force trauma, said state prosecutor West Adams.
Adams said an autopsy report discovered that the girl had 53 bruises to her body and 14 bruises to her head and suffered from severe internal injuries. West said when the juvenile was taken in to speak with county homicide detectives, he admitted to striking the girl at least six times with a closed fist. The autopsy concluded that the injuries were all sustained from this single incident.
The boy was subsequently charged with two counts of second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.
“I accept your plea to involuntary manslaughter and find that you acted in grossly negligent manner that caused Aniyah’s death,” Krauser said.
Krauser scheduled a disposition hearing for Oct. 23.
Before the disposition hearing will be held, Krauser ordered that psychiatric and psychological evaluations be done.
The juvenile’s defense attorney, Raouf Abdullah, said the boy has expressed excellent behavior throughout the court proceedings and makes no indications that he had malicious intentions.
“There is nothing in his behavior that would suggest that he did this,” said Abdullah, who would not say whether the juvenile is guilty of the act. “He has consistently presented himself as a good young man.”
Family members declined to comment following the hearing Wednesday.
“It’s something they’ll never be comfortable with, because that’s their child,” Abdullah said.
The boy will remain in the Cheltenham Youth Facility until the October hearing when Krauser will determine a disposition.