Friday, February 8, 2008

Mom of suspect in tot's death: He's innocent

A 12-year-old boy beat a toddler to death with a baseball bat because she was crying while he was trying to watch TV, authorities said.


The mother of a 12-year-old boy accused of killing his toddler cousin with a baseball bat told a judge Friday that her son is innocent.

''You can't go to jail when you're innocent,'' Guerla Joseph said in an emotional outburst to Broward Circuit Court Judge Charlie Kaplan.

Joseph said she was concerned about her son's future, especially because he isn't in a regular school now. He has been held in a juvenile facility since his arrest early last month in the death of 17-month-old Shaloh Joseph.

She also said she wants to take him clothes to wear at the facility, where all of the juveniles wear the same uniform.

Kaplan urged Joseph to let the attorneys involved in the case take the time they need to come to a resolution.

''I feel your pain,'' he said. ``I know what you're going through. You've got to let it play out.''

Prosecutors have offered the youth, whom The Miami Herald is not naming because of his age, a plea deal that would keep him in juvenile court. Defense attorneys are still weighing the offer, they said Friday.

Joseph's statement to the judge came after a hearing about the efforts of local media to get records from the state Department of Children & Families about prior incidents involving the boy.

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