MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A 14-year-old boy is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the death of a 6-year-old foster child. That same boy is also facing charges of child abuse for beating two other foster children.
Police officially charged 14-year-old Antonio Evans with first-degree murder in the death of 6-year-old Destine King on December 31. Evans was the babysitter of King.
A 6-year-old girl went to the hospital just days before Christmas. She was later pronounced dead.
According to police, on December 23, 6-year-old Destine King, a 7-year-old boy, and a 9-year-old girl were all left in the care of a 14-year-old Antonio Evans, while their foster mother was at work. Sources said Evans is not a foster child.
Memphis police found King unresponsive in her Cordova foster home in the 1400 block of Beaver Trail. According to investigators, the girl had a bruised and swollen face when they arrived to the scene.
Officers said all three young children were beaten. They were all taken to the hospital.
King was in critical condition when she went to the hospital. Police said she died on December 27. Her cause of death has not been determined at this time.
The 7-year-old and 9-year-old have been released from the hospital. Police have not released their names.
Evans is accused of beating all three children. In addition to his first-degree murder charge, he is charged with three counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of coercing a witness.
Neighbors are shocked to learn days later that the little girl died.
"I just pray that it's not true. But, I really hope that this definitely gets resolved. If the situation is true and it turns out to be true, the boy is definitely going to have to face the consequences for what he's done," Cory Bell, a neighbor, said.
Memphis Police and the Department of Children's Services are investigating the circumstances surrounding her death. Neither department would release the name of the foster parent.
"That's terrible because I have a child and that's extremely sad," Patrick Cox, neighbor, said. "I hope that she's in heaven with God right now and I hope the person that actually did this is in jail for the rest of his life."
DCS said they have moved the two children to different foster homes at this time.
Neighbors, who fear for the safety and do not want to be identified, said they have met the family before.
"For me, like, it's terrible...these things. I don't know, I guess they are not normal people can do these things. Maybe he has a mental problem," the neighbor said.
Some area teenagers said Evans is the step-brother of the foster mother's grandson. They said Evans did not live in the home.
"He didn't do it," one of the neighbors, who did not want to be identified, said. "They like mind, they not disrespectful. They were nice kids."
The teenagers said the foster children are all related, but they are not related to the foster mother. It is unclear why the three young children were removed from their home.
"We never let them out of our sight. I mean, you can't trust people these days, especially with your kids. Something as important as that," Zane Hassan, neighbor, said.
Jeff Ward is an attorney who represents parents trying to get their children back from the state. He said a child dying in foster care is unusual in Shelby County.
"It's very rare," Ward said.
Evans will be in Juvenile Court for a detention hearing on the murder charge Monday at 1 p.m.
The Shelby County Juvenile Court confirms if the case is retained in the juvenile system, a minor can be held until age 19. But, if it is transferred to the adult system, if convicted, Evans could be sentenced up to life in prison for the crime.
MPD said it is up to the courts to decide if he will be tried as an adult. At this point, police have not charged the foster mother in the case.