MARIETTA, Ga. — A Cobb County judge has ruled that a 12-year-old Tampa boy accused of murdering his 5-week-old cousin will remain in jail while awaiting trial.
At a hearing Friday, Juvenile Court Judge A. Gregory Poole ordered the boy held until the Sept. 8 trial date.
Police say a 22-year-old woman from Kennesaw left her daughter in the car with the boy on July 4 while she went into a store, and called police when she came back and found the baby was not breathing.
The baby was pronounced dead at a hospital Sunday night. Police say an autopsy showed the baby died of blunt force trauma.
The boy is being held at the Cobb County youth detention center on charges of murder and cruelty to children.
The judge ruled that the boy should be charged as a juvenile. Poole explained the charges to the boy Friday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution gave the following account of that exchange:
"Felony means it is a big deal. It's a crime," the judge told the boy. "You unlawfully caused the death of Millan Young by using blunt force trauma to the head. … They are saying you maliciously caused Millan Young cruel and obsessive physical pain by using blunt trauma to the head."
The handcuffed and shackled 4-foot-tall boy nodded his head that he understood. His attorney helped him stand up and sign his name to a not guilty plea.
The newspaper reported that the district attorney said the boy should get more than the maximum of two years in prison allowed under the state's juvenile crime statutes.
"When the case involves the murder of a 5-week-old child, it seems the punishment is disproportionate to the crime given the severity in this case," Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head said after the boy's arraignment.
Recent changes in the law could possibly allow for the boy to receive more time, but not as severe as the punishment he could receive if convicted as an adult, Head said.
Details about the death and motive have not been released.
The baby's mother, who has not been identified, was not in court Friday, but the boy's mother was and cried throughout hearing, the Journal-Constitution reported.
Also Friday, the judge heard arguments from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and St. Petersburg Times requesting access to the hearing. He ruled that the media could be present as long as the boy is not identified.
"There is plenty of interest concerning the case and I think there is a compelling reason to open the case," he said Friday.
Defense attorney Bert W. Cohen objected to the media attending the arraignment. He declined to comment further.
Cohen also requested the trial be delayed while he awaits a psychological exam of the boy. Prosecutors said they are also waiting for DNA to be tested at the state crime lab.
The boy's father, who is currently deployed with the U.S. Army, will be granted special permission to attend the boy's trial, the judge said.
Information from the Associated Press and Atlanta Journal-Constitution were included in this report.