BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The 8-year-old boy charged with the murder of a 1-year-old girl "is not and will not be charged as an adult," District Attorney Brandon Falls confirmed in a statement about the case on Thursday.
Falls said that Katerra Lewis, the mother of 1-year-old victim Kelci Lewis, will proceed through the adult court system of Alabama for her charge of manslaughter in the case.
Relatives of the 8-year-old boy are distraught. One relative said they do not believe the boy committed this horrible act.
"He is a little boy that's 8 years old and he is not an angry little boy. He's a good little boy…'yes ma'am, no ma'am.' When he is over here with us he is good. He don't fight these kids over here," the family member said.
"Let us love him and raise him and teach him right from wrong and live a life of a little 8-year-old boy. And not being punished for something that I don't feel like he did. The family, we all deep in our hearts, we know he wouldn't do nothing like that," the relative continued.
On Thursday, the DA gave some clarification about the case involving the 8-year-old boy, the youngest defendant the Birmingham Police Department has ever charged with murder.
"It is important to note that under Alabama law, a juvenile is never charged with a criminal offense, but is charged with being a juvenile delinquent. As such, some of the well-known principals of the adult criminal justice system, such as punishment and prison, do not apply to juvenile cases," Falls said.
"In Alabama, juvenile law operates under the premise that the primary goal for each child charged with a delinquent act, whether that act is a minor misdemeanor or a violent felony, is to see that the child receives the care or guidance needed in order to benefit the child. This may involve individual or family counseling, psychiatric services, drug recovery, or other individualized therapeutic programs designed to rehabilitate the child," he continued.
Falls said the first thing that will happen is for the judge to determine whether or not a child is competent and if he understood the consequences of his actions.
"The child's age, education, mental condition, and physical condition are all taken into consideration by the Court," Falls said.
If the court decides the child is not competent, then it could change from a juvenile delinquency hearing to a dependency hearing about the child's general welfare, according to the DA.
"The Court will consider whether the child is a danger to himself or others and whether there are mental health issues that need to be addressed in a therapeutic environment," Falls said.
The judge will then decide if the child would remain in his home or in a more suitable environment.
"As a last resort, the Court may consider placement in a secure, age-appropriate facility if it is determined that the safety of the community is at risk and that there is no lesser restrictive means to accomplish this goal," the DA said.
Falls said the information about the boy in this case will be kept strictly confidential, for his own welfare and the safety of others he may come into contact with. Under the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act, only limited information about the case will be released to the public, he said.
He added that a case of this nature, while not unprecedented, is a rare occurrence.
"Although there are other methods for the state and the juvenile courts to intercede in the life of a minor, the unique and tragic facts surrounding this case make a juvenile delinquency proceeding the best route for reaching a just resolution for all involved," Falls said.