MARION COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A 10-year-old boy is charged with manslaughter after deputies say he killed a toddler, described by authorities as a relative. The victim, a 2-year-old girl, died back in June, but the investigation into her death is ongoing.
The boy was in court on Thursday, dressed in a yellow jail jumpsuit, as he faced a judge. He signed some paperwork, before being hauled back to a juvenile detention center. The judge determined there's enough evidence to keep him locked up for now.
Detectives with the Marion County Sheriff's Office said, on June 21, Journee Blyden was transported to the hospital with severe head injuries. She died a few days later.
We talked to the toddler's mother, Nicole Davis, by phone. "I'm happy that they put him away for now," she said. "I feel like the parent who was at the house at the time should also be in jail lack of supervision. You're not watching the kids in your house."
According to Sheriff's Office spokesperson, the children were unsupervised, along with a third child who is younger than 10, when the injuries occurred. When deputies arrived at the scene, they were told by the boy that the toddler fell out of a playpen.
"The medical examiner initially, right off the bat, said it does not match what we are seeing here with the findings we have through our autopsy, so we started doing follow up interviews with the people that were on scene," said Lauren Lettelier. "We talked to a juvenile witness that spoke to us, and she said that there was abuse."
Lettelier said investigators talked to the 10-year-old boy about allegations of abuse.
"He got very emotional and started to tell us the story that he was running with the child in his arms and fell, and that's what caused the injuries to her head. He put her on top of the counter and accidentally pushed her over again," Lettelier explained.
According to Lettelier, the medical examiner concluded that the boy's story was not consistent with the injuries Blyden suffered, saying it would have taken excessive force and ruled the death a homicide.
"They seemed to be playing and getting along. I just think it's a tragedy," lamented neighbor Bill Embree. "You'd never know that, just to see him play. You'd never think anything was wrong."
Davis said she had recently taken a job in Jacksonville and was told that Blyden's grandmother would take care of her for a few months.
"I didn't want to take her out of the daycare that she just got use to, and I had just come here to work full time," she said. "She was a good baby, she liked to dance, she liked to sing."
Court records show the victim's father is in jail, accused of killing a one-year-old baby.