Wednesday, October 31, 2007
An arrest affidavit says his godmother struck the child and allowed him to be abused.
Sentinel Staff Writer
October 31, 2007
Levares Key knew all too well the sting of a belt hitting his skin and breaking the flesh.
For almost half of his short life, caregivers beat the 8-year-old repeatedly and left at least 30 scars on his backside, according to an Orange County sheriff's arrest affidavit filed Tuesday.
The dead boy's godmother, Sandra Annette Blackmon, 43, was arrested on charges of child abuse and child neglect. Detectives said their investigation found that Blackmon, who raised Levares for most of his life, beat him and allowed him to be abused before his death last month.
Blackmon, the third person charged in connection with the boy's death, was being held Tuesday night at the Orange County Jail. She declined to be interviewed.
Levares died Sept. 29 after being kicked, punched and hit at his mother's apartment on South Texas Avenue. Orange County sheriff's investigators have charged his older brother Demetrius Key, 13, with premeditated murder.
It wasn't the first time the younger boy had been hit. The medical examiner told sheriff's investigators that Levares' body displayed numerous wounds in various stages of healing.
"Levares was a chronically battered child," according to Blackmon's arrest affidavit.
When Levares was four and a half months old, the boy's mother, Tangela Key, gave him to Blackmon, who kept him until he was 11 months old and then returned him to Key. For the next three months Key took care of him while she lived in New York, according to the affidavit.
When the child was 14 months old, Blackmon resumed care of Levares, which continued until June 14, when she gave him back to Key. The affidavit did not state why Key began taking care of Levares again.
During an interview with sheriff's investigators earlier this month, Blackmon admitted to hitting Levares from the time he was four and a half years old until the boy left her in June.
"Sandra Blackmon admitted to leaving approximately thirty linear permanent marks on Levares' butt and back after she 'whooped' him," according to the affidavit. "She also said her brother 'whooped' Levares and left an estimated ten permanent marks on his body."
Blackmon and her brother, Stacy Allen, would use a belt to discipline the children for various reasons including coming home late, getting suspended from school, stealing, talking back and cussing.
Another child who lived in Blackmon's home, and referred to Levares as his 'brother,' told investigators he saw Levares hit with a belt and also saw marks from the beatings.
Key said the boy told her that Blackmon and Allen had beaten him in the past. He also told her that Blackmon's mother intentionally burned him once with a cigarette lighter, according to the affidavit.
Neither Allen nor Blackmon's mother has been arrested in the case.
Earlier this month, Key was arrested and charged with aggravated child neglect. Investigators say she left Levares in Demetrius' care at the apartment, even though she knew he had harmed the younger boy in the past.
She is free on bail, but Demetrius is being held at the Orange County Juvenile Detention Center. Prosecutors have said they do not intend to try him as an adult.
Levares was one of 56 people murdered in Orange County so far this year.
Bianca Prieto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5620.