By Nigel Boys
When 26-year-old Katerra Lewis went out for a girl’s night on the town in Birmingham, Alabama on October 10, she left her 1-year-old daughter, Kelci Lewis, in the care of her roommate’s children.
While Lewis and the mother of five roommate enjoyed nightclubbing, beginning around 11 p.m., little Kelci began crying for some reason and wouldn’t stop, according to CNN.
An 8-year-old boy, allegedly annoyed by her crying, reportedly took it upon himself to make her stop. He viciously attacked her, causing severe head trauma and “major internal organ damage,” Lt. Sean Edwards told reporters on Tuesday.
The Birmingham Police Department Lieutenant continued, “We did have some information that the 8-year-old got extremely agitated because the 1-year-old refused to stop crying, and so I guess the 8-year-old took it upon himself and began to commit violent acts against the 1-year-old.” He added that the boy was the eldest of the children left to look after Kelci and the other’s ranged from 2-years-old upwards.
The police report states that as well as leaving Kelci in the hands of children, which Edwards said were far too young for the responsibility, her mother and roommate didn’t bother to check on them until they returned home from clubbing around 2 a.m.
Even then, Lewis didn’t bother to check on her toddler until much later the following morning, according to Edwards. He added that if she had checked Kelci in her crib, where the boy had apparently place her, when she got home, paramedics might have been able to do something and the eventual tragedy might have been avoided.
The police did not receive a call about Kelci being unresponsive in her crib until around 10:30 a.m., at which time it was already too late, said Edwards.
WBRC reports that Kelci was taken to Children’s of Alabama Hospital by paramedics, where she was pronounced dead on arrival. Describing the case as the most heartbreaking he and police Chief A.C. Roper have ever seen in their careers, Edwards added that the toddler’s death was ruled a homicide by the Jefferson County coroner.
Lewis reportedly turned herself in on Monday night and was released from Jefferson County jail after posting the $15,000 bond which had been set for her. She has been charged with manslaughter.
The 8-year-old boy has been charged with murder and is in the custody of the State Department of Human Resources, along with the other four children who were in the home at the time. None of the children have been named and police say they will not be releasing that information in the near future, according to AL.com.
WBRC reports that Lewis’ attorney, Emory Anthony, said, “The manslaughter statute deals with someone’s action, as far as, acting in the heat of passion or acting in a reckless manner, not a person allowing some other person to act in a dangerous manner.”
“I think they are trying to allege that she was reckless or negligent in some particular way, and we’ll have to deal with that,” Anthony continued. “Of course, my client has a different story about what transpired.”
“No education, no school, no degree, no training can really prepare you for an 8-year-old committing a heinous crime like this,” Edwards said, adding investigators are struggling to process how the young boy could have “that much evil in his heart,” to do what he did.
“The 8-year-old just recklessly, viciously dealt with the 1-year-old,” Edwards continued. “If you can imagine… the damage that it takes to cause severe blunt trauma to the head and organs, it’s pretty rough,” he added.
“I think her punishment is going to be something she’ll have to live with the rest of her life,” said Edwards about Lewis, adding that she has been cooperative and thinks the reality of her choice on the fateful night is starting to set in. “Her actions that night, choosing the club over taking care of her 1-year-old, it’s going to stick with her the rest of her life.”
It is yet unclear as to whether Lewis’ roommate, the owner of the home and the mother of the five children, including the 8-year-old suspect, will be charged, according to assistant District Attorney, Mary Russell, who is handling the case.
People gathered to light candles and release balloons in remembrance of Kelci during a vigil which was held for her in a Birmingham park last month, according to AL.com. “She was loved by so many,” her grandmother, Waynetta Callens, told the outlet. “Prayers and the grace of God are helping me to keep my sanity right now.”
“She grew to be this happy, adorable, lovable, cheerful, talkative baby that everyone grew to love,” Callens continued. “Words cannot express the way my daughter and myself feel along with the family.”