BERTIE COUNTY, N.C. — A judge has determined the fate of a 9-year-old boy who killed a 3-year old child.
The judge ruled the 9-year-old, whose identity has not been released due to his age, be placed into the custody of the Department of Social Services in Bertie County. He will later be placed in a residential treatment facility where he will be monitored 24 hours a day and be given a mental evaluation.
"I feel in my heart that he didn't do it because he didn't get the justice in what was done. They didn't have any physical evidence. They were just going by hearsay," said Cheryl Askew, the 9-year-old's aunt.
In an earlier hearing, the boy was found responsible for the death of Malik Beverly. Malik's body was found in a Bertie County septic tank in September.
Investigators said the defendant told a classmate that he committed the crime. The defendant was only 8 years old at the time.
The 9-year-old's family said they do not believe he is responsible for the crime. The defendant was too young to be tried as an adult and the state youth development center does not take anyone under 10 years old. His options included being placed in a mental health care facility, foster home or in the care of family.
"Just like any family here, it is at Christmas time and we can't have our nephew home. If anyone had a heart, they'd let him come home," Askew said.
Assistant District Attorney Assata Buffaloe said it is a tragedy for both families, but believes the judge made the right decision.
"The family of Malik Beverly is, I think, satisfied that they feel justice has been done," he said.
The judge ordered the 9-year-old boy to serve one year probation and 50 hours of community service. During the time the 9-year-old will be at the facility, he will have limited visitation with his parents. He is also ordered to not have any contact with members of the victim's family. Attorneys for the 9-year-old have filed an appeal.
Another hearing is scheduled for February. At that time, social services officials will discuss their findings and the judge will determine where to place him.