Monday, 21 November 2011

Mother Of Teen Charged With Murder Speaks Out

KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- In an exclusive interview, KCTV5 News spoke with the mother of a teen who prosecutors accuse of being a cold-blooded killer.

Keaira Brown was just 13 years old when she was charged with murder and she will soon be the youngest person in Wyandotte County's history ever to be tried as an adult.

Cheryl Brown said from the moment she was born, her youngest daughter Keaira Brown was always close to her. Cheryl Brown said she has three other children -- two are enrolled in local colleges.

She told KCTV5's Heather Staggers that when she went to prison for drugs, it may have pushed her daughter to try and commit suicide when she was 10

"I always had contact with her. Wrote letters and called," said Cheryl Brown. "I remember she sent me $5 in the mail."

Cheryl Brown said before her prison sentence, her family was like many others. She involved her daughters in after school activities and that Keaira Brown played the violin at her elementary school.

Cheryl Brown said she and her daughter's father had split up but they shared joint custody.

Prosecutors in a recent hearing told a judge that Keaira Brown was a wayward child; wandering from house to house, often with no parental supervision.

"There is no way Keaira would be out roaming the streets and not be taken care of," said Cheryl Brown.

On July 23, 2008, at about 4 p.m., Cheryl Brown said her daughter was supposed to be at a summer program at the Boys and Girls Club in Kansas City. I
nstead, prosecutors said she was involved in the slaying of Scott Sappington Jr.

Authorities said Sappington was a junior at Sumner Academy had just dropped his siblings off at their grandmother's house when he was fatally shot at point blank range near Laurel and Parkwood boulevards.

Witnesses told police that they saw a girl walking down the street with bloody clothes. Police said their investigation led them to a 6-year-old who later testified that Keaira Brown gave a group of children her clothes and told the children to get rid of them.

"When I think back to that day when I received the call, it was from family members saying the police were looking for Keaira and I just thought. 'What in God's name, what could have happened,'" said Cheryl Brown.

Police distributed pictures of the bloody clothes to the media. Soon after, those clothes were traced back to Keaira Brown.

Her parents walked Keaira Brown into the police station.

"At t
hat time they told us the charge and it was just horrific. It was unbelievable," said Cheryl Brown.

Keaira Brown's parents obtained an attorney but they said when the cost reached well over $20,000, they had to let him go.

Cheryl Brown said her daughter was assigned a public defender, whom she said has done very little to help their daughter's case.

Prosecutors allege that the shooting incident was a car jacking that went wrong. But Cheryl Brown said her daughter cannot drive.

Cheryl Brown said she believes her daughter may have been a pawn for area gang members. She said someone else committed the crime but convinced her daughter to take the fall because of her age.

"I did hear that there were other people in the area. They did say there were other things in the car. These things have not been addressed," said Cheryl Brown.

In April, almost a year after the crime, a Wyandotte County judge ruled that Keaira Brown should face trial as an adult. If she is convi
cted on the charges, Keaira Brown could go to jail for life.

"When the judge said that how did you feel?" asked Staggers.

"I was deeply hurt. My heart sank because with that hearing, I felt like there was not sufficient evidence established that she did this," said Cheryl Brown.

Wyandotte County judge Dan Cahill listened to attorneys for two days before making his final decision.

Staggers said KCTV5 News could not speak with Cahill, but another judge who works on juvenile criminal cases in Wyandotte County was willing to discuss a similar case.

District court judge Wes Griffin will hear a separate case later this month involving another juvenile who was 13 when he was accused of killing someone, Staggers said.

"The younger they are, the harder it is," said Griffin. "At one time we had 11 juveniles in jail for murders."

In cases where a ruling is needed to determine whether a child should stand trial as an adult, Griffin said the court considers eight factors, w
hich include the seriousness of a crime, whether a gun was used and if it was used against a person.

He said judges also look at whether or not the child has had multiple prior crimes, trouble at school and the maturity level of the child.

Griffin said the court also looks at whether or not the child can be rehabilitated and if the community be better served if the accused is prosecuted as an adult.

Cheryl Brown said with the proper defense attorney, she is convinced her daughter will be found innocent. She said she will not stop fighting.

Griffin said juveniles who are convicted as adults do not go to an adult prison in Wyandotte County, but instead, stay in juvenile detention until they are 18 years old. Then they carry out the remainder of their sentence in an adult prison.

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