Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Brother, 13, beat 8-year-old to death over dessert (with video)

April Hunt

Sentinel Staff Writer

3:26 PM EDT, October 3, 2007

A 13-year-old Orange County boy beat his brother to death over dessert.

Demetrius Key told Orange County deputy sheriffs that he kicked, punched and choked his 8-year-old brother, Levares, on Saturday afternoon because he was upset that the younger boy ate a dessert he was not supposed to have had.

Demetrius was watching his brother and several other siblings at the time and said he was worried he would be blamed for the infraction and also for a scab that Levares had picked until it bled.

The 5-foot-1-inch Demetrius also admitted to striking his brother in the head with a metal broom before repeatedly banging his head on the floor until he was unconscious.

Levares died later Saturday at Orlando Regional Medical Center. Late last night, deputies held Demetrius on a first-degree murder charge.

"Brothers do fight, but rarely do one of them end up dying," said Orange County Sheriff's Sgt. John Allen. "This is a very unusual case."

Deputies released details of Demetrius' confession during a press conference this afternoon. However, the case remains under investigation as detectives try to sort through just what happened to Levares in his short life.

The brothers had lived together for just the past few months. Their mother, Tangela Key, gave up the younger boy to a woman she described as a godmother within a month of his being born, Allen said.

Brenda Blackmon raised Levares until a few months ago, when for some reason, Tangela Key decided she wanted him back, Allen said. Detectives do not know which woman had legal custody.

They do know, from the autopsy that showed Levares died from a head injury, that the boy also had older injuries in various stages of healing. They would not say how long ago those injuries may have happened.

"It certainly appears at this point that the child was beaten over a long period of time," Allen said.

The Department of Children and Families had been investigating Tangela Key in the past but detectives would not provide specific details about any cases or outcomes.

Investigators did say that Tangela Key and Demetrius had been cooperating in this case.

They interviewed the mother and older son at least three times, including twice at Demetrius' great-grandmother's home near St. Cloud. Deputies from Osceola and Orange had to wake Demetrius up at the home last night to serve the warrant, charging him with his brother's murder.

Demetrius remains at the Osceola County Juvenile Detention center this afternoon.

The Beach Club apartment where the family lives was quiet this afternoon. A child's red Huffy with training wheels remained on the balcony, and candles and glass decorations lined the inside window sill.

Few neighbors said they knew the Keys, saying they had not lived in the second-floor unit for very long.

It was a neighbor, J'Herica Gadsden, who heard loud banging noises coming from the unit Saturday afternoon and saw Levares on his balcony struggling to survive.

She called 911 when the boy began making gurgling noises and his eyes rolled back into his head. She said she had not seen the boy before but noticed he had bruises and cuts on his face and stomach.

"It's very overwhelming to know that your next-door neighbor is dead," Gadsden said. "You never see him before that day, and you just see him flat-line."

Bianca Prieto of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report.

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