Saturday, October 6, 2007

Teen accused in death of 8-year-old brother to remain in custody

Judge: Evidence justifies confinement

Rene Stutzman
Sentinel Staff Writer

October 6, 2007

The body of 8-year-old Levares Key will remain at the Orange County Medical Examiner's Office, and the 13-year-old brother accused of beating the child to death will remain locked up, a judge decided Friday.

Attorneys for the older boy, Demetrius Key, want their own expert to examine the body and determine why he died, said Eileen Forrester, chief assistant public defender for Orange and Osceola counties.

A judge made that possible Friday during a three-minute hearing in Orlando. Circuit Judge Roger McDonald ordered the state to surrender the body.

He also gave prosecutors more time to pull together their case, ruling that Demetrius should remain locked in a juvenile facility for 30 days, nine more than usual.

Demetrius said nothing at Friday's hearing. He stood straight and alert in chains, next to Forrester, who occasionally rested her hand on his back.

The judge's most important ruling was that Orange County detectives had gathered enough evidence to justify his detention.

Demetrius is accused of premeditated murder -- beating his brother to death Saturday while his mother was out of their apartment off Texas Avenue.

Prosecutors have not filed formal charges, but Forrester said no one in the State Attorney's Office had indicated they planned to charge the boy as an adult.

Demetrius was arrested late Tuesday. His mother, Tangela Key, 34, was arrested Thursday, accused of aggravated child neglect for leaving the younger boy alone with Demetrius, who she told deputies had a history of abusing the boy.

Tangela Key was released from the Orange County Jail on Friday after posting $2,500 bond. She did not appear to be among the spectators at her son's hearing.

Orange County Medical Examiner Jan Garavaglia issued preliminary findings Monday that Levares had died of a closed-head injury -- which means there was bleeding inside his skull but no open wound -- and was the victim of a homicide.

A neighbor told authorities she heard noises from the family's apartment Saturday afternoon -- four bangs followed by silence.

Demetrius, his great-grandmother standing by, gave deputies a detailed account of what happened: He grabbed his brother by the shirt from behind, sending the boy to the floor, then began choking him.

Demetrius said he also punched the boy in the stomach three or four times, hit him in the mouth and then went back to choking him. Next, he banged the boy's head against the floor until Levares passed out, according to the arrest report.

Demetrius told deputies he attacked his brother because the boy had eaten a forbidden dessert and picked a scab until it began to bleed.

It was not the first time Demetrius had hurt his brother, according to his mother's arrest report. After growing up in another household, the younger boy had moved home about a week ago, she told authorities.

In that time, she had already seen marks on him left by the older boy and knew Demetrius was violent toward his little brother, according to her arrest report.

She had "whooped" the 13-year-old because of it, she told deputies and said, "Somebody needs to help him."

What she meant wasn't clear Friday, but the boy told deputies that just before the attack, he heard a voice directing him to hit his brother. A second voice told him not to. He listened to the one that egged him on, he said.

None of those things explains other, older injuries that medical personnel found on the boy. Orange County sheriff's Sgt. John Allen told reporters earlier this week that it appeared the boy had been beaten over a "long period of time."

Rene Stutzman can be reached at or 407-324-7294.

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