A 10-year-old boy was charged with manslaughter and picked up by police Wednesday for beating his 2-year-old cousin to death, the Orlando Sentinel is reporting.
Officials had been called to a house in Ocala, Florida, around 12:14 a.m. where they found the 2-year-old girl, Journee Blyden, not breathing and unconscious. Her grandmother, Melina Blyden, was found administering CPR. The little girl was taken to the Ocala Regional Medical Center and later flown to UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville where she later died from severe head injuries.
The 10-year-old boy, whose identity has not been made public because of his age, and his sister had told police that Journee accidentally fell out of a playpen. However, an autopsy revealed that the toddler had bruises on her chin, ear, and parts of her head. Journee Blyden also had lacerations on her lip, an enlarged right optic nerve, and multiple skull fractures.
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A medical examiner who conducted the autopsy said Journee Blyden’s injuries were not consistent with the playpen narrative. The examiner, Dr. Wendy Lavezzi, concluded that the injuries could only have been caused by “excessive force” and ruled the death a homicide.
A week after Journee’s demise, the alleged suspect’s sister told a different story to authorities at the Kimberly Center for Child Protection, saying that her brother had hit the little girl when they were left unsupervised at their Ocala residence. She said she had told her little cousin to call her brother “beaver teeth”.
The girl said at one point her brother had choked their cousin until she told him to stop because “she didn’t want her brother taken away from them.” The suspect’s sister said the little girl was fine, but when their mother left the house to pick up their grandmother, her 10-year-old brother had picked a sleeping Journee from her playpen and slammed her on the ground.
The girl said she was in her bedroom when she heard the crashing noise. According to her, she came downstairs and saw little Journee in the playpen and her brother seated on the couch. When the girl was prodded further by authorities whether the 2-year-old had been thrown on the same day, an ambulance was called; she said she did not want to talk anymore.
When the boy was questioned by police, he told a different story, saying he tripped while holding the little girl and accidentally fell on top of her. He added that he had also mistakenly pushed her off a counter as he was trying to get her water. He said he did not tell his mother about the incident immediately.
Journee’s mother, Nicole Davis, said she lived with the family for three years and would remember her little girl always as a “smiling angel.”
“She was a good baby. She liked to sing songs from the movie Frozen. Once she gets around kids, she liked to play. She loved to dance and she was a lovable baby.”
The unidentified boy was arrested after State Attorney Office officials and detectives reviewed the case. He is expected to make a court appearance this week. Legal experts say it is difficult to decide where the pendulum would swing, saying he could get a reprimand or be held in a juvenile home until the age of 18.
Grand jury indicts man for first-degree murder: A grand jury indicted 27-year-old Kendall Corey Dustin Blyden on… http://t.co/FmWcxEg8ZL
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Journee’s dad, Kendall Blyden, is also due to appear in court this week for the death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old son, Jayden Green. Jayden died three years ago. Blyden has been behind bars since then, held on charges of murder and aggravated child abuse. Coincidentally, Blyden also said Jayden Green fell out of his playpen.
According to Ocala Star-Banner‘s sources, the 29-year-old man later reviewed his story, telling investigators that Jayden fell from his arms and hit his head on a piece of metal from a lounge chair. Doctors said the boy’s injuries were not consistent with the accident that Blyden described.
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