A 12-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree murder in the fatal beating of a two-year-old foster child who was staying at his Fort Washington home, Prince George’s County police said.
Police spokeswoman Julie Parker said the toddler, Aniyah Batchelor, had been placed by a state agency with a family in the 1800 block of Taylor Street. There were no adults in the house at the time of the incident, police said, and a 15-year-old girl who lives there was watching the younger children.
Parker declined to comment on any motive, and said the 12-year-old is being held in a juvenile detention facility.
Police said they were first called to the home at 12:09 p.m. Tuesday by the 12-year-old’s father who reported that Aniyah was unconscious. Under instruction from a 911 call-taker, the man administering CPR, while emergency workers headed to the home. Aniyah was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.
An autopsy conducted Wednesday showed that Aniyah died from “blunt force trauma,” Parker said.
“Through the course of the investigation detectives learned that the 12-year-old had beaten the child repeatedly,” Parker said. She said no weapon was used in the beating but declined to comment further.
Police said Aniyah lived in the house with a couple and their three biological children — the 12-year-old boy, the 15-year-old girl and a 4-year-old girl. Parker said the court had ordered Aniyah into the foster system.
Police Capt. Joseph R. Hoffman said police have not previously been called to the house and have had no history with the family.
Pat Hines, a spokesman with the Maryland Department of Human Resources, the parent agency overseeing the county department of social services, declined to say how long Aniyah had been in the home or whether any prior problems had been reported, saying such matters are confidential.
Hines said the state can discuss some details about a child in foster care if there is “an allegation of abuse and neglect,” resulting in a death. He said he consulted a state assistant attorney general who concluded that Aniyah’s case does not involve such an allegation.
“Privacy issues related to people in care are very sensitive,” Hines said, explaining the state’s “conservative reading” of the terms “abuse and neglect” in this case.
Police and prosecutors in Maryland can decide to charge a child over age 14 as an adult, authorities said.
In this case, involving a 12-year-old defendant, prosecutors can not charge as an adult initially, but can ask a juvenile judge to send the case to adult court. It was not clear whether that would happen.
“At this point, homicide detectives are talking with the state’s attorney’s office about the status of the 12-year-old,” Parker said. “At this point he has been charged as a juvenile. That could change.”