A 10-year-old boy in Marion County appeared in court Thursday after he was arrested and charged with aggravated manslaughter of his 2-year-old relative.
He’s being charged as a juvenile.
An ongoing investigation into the June incident and interviews with witnesses showed the 10-year-old caused “extensive and ultimately fatal injuries” to 2-year-old Journee Blyden, according to Marion County Sheriff’s Office.
At the time of the incident, medical examiners ruled it a homicide.
“We had a juvenile witness that did give us the details of some abuse that was done,” Marion County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Lauren Lettelier said. “The person that was doing the abuse was a 10-year-old that was in the house at the time.”
According to the police report, on Tuesday June 21 Journee was taken to the hospital with severe head trauma. During an initial interview, the 10-year-old who was arrested and charged admitted to being involved in an accident with Journee, saying she fell from her playpen.
Interviews with another witness detailed abuse to her and Journee, while the three of them were unsupervised. The 10-year-old then told detectives he was running with Journee in his arms and fell on the kitchen floor. He said he placed Journee on the counter and “accidentally” pushed her off.
Journee died from her injuries a few days after being admitted into the hospital.
“In this case though the medical examiner says that the injuries that were caused did not match the 10-year-old’s description of what happened,” Lettelier said. “It was a much more violent event and she received some very severe injuries, which were homicidal in nature.”
Sheriff’s detectives reviewed the case with prosecutors from the State Attorney’s Office to determine the charges.
The 10-year-old was arrested and booked into Marion County Juvenile Detention Center on Wednesday.
“When one two-year-old’s life is taken, it’s unbelievably tragic. You look at the pictures of her and she is so precious and so full of life,” Lettelier said. “She did not in any way, shape, or form deserve what happened to her. And we want to make sure we get justice for Journee and I think that we did that here.”
Typically, when a minor is arrested and charged with a crime in Florida, they go through the juvenile justice process.
“It’s different then the adult justice system, obviously,” Heather DiGiacomo, Communications Director for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, said. “In the juvenile system, the child doesn’t post bond (like an adult).”
Within 24 hours of being arrested, the juvenile is brought to court and the judge determines whether he needs to be released or put in a secure detention center, DiGiacomo said.
WKMG in Orlando reported from juvenile court Thursday morning that the 10-year-old must stay in detention. He was appointed a public defender and his next court date is Sept. 21.