Md. Boy Charged With Murder

Family, friends and co-workers hold a vigil outside the home of Katrina Denise Powe, 31, and Mystery Toma Hillian, 9, who were found slain Sunday.
Family, friends and co-workers hold a vigil outside the home of Katrina Denise Powe, 31, and Mystery Toma Hillian, 9, who were found slain Sunday. (By Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
By Allison Klein and Hamil R. Harris
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The 12-year-old Prince George's County boy charged yesterday with killing his mother and brother over the weekend would often wear masks to hide his face, get into fistfights and tell people, "I'm crazy. Don't mess with me," neighbors said.

He would walk around his Forestville neighborhood with his face cloaked by a bandanna and a book cover on his head to look as if he had horns, according to neighbors.

In Prince George's juvenile court yesterday, he was charged as a juvenile with two counts of first-degree murder in the bludgeoning deaths of his mother, Katrina Denise Powe, 31, and brother, Mystery Toma Hillian, 9.

Detectives found a metal bar that they said is the weapon used in the slayings. They were trying yesterday to determine a motive for the crime. "I haven't heard any word as to why this kid did this," said Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a police spokesman.

The case is puzzling to detectives, especially because the suspect did not have an arrest record or documented history of abuse, according to law enforcement sources who did not want to be identified because the case is open and because juvenile records are sealed.

The county's Department of Social Services has no record of alleged abuse in the home, according to one of the sources. The source said that police found bruises on the 12-year-old but that it was "unclear whether they were from the struggle or prior abuse."

Law enforcement sources originally said that the crime was carried out with a knife. Yesterday, they said the weapon was a metal bar, the type usually used to secure a car's steering wheel to prevent theft.

The boy's name is being withheld because he is a juvenile. He was represented at the hearing by a public defender.

He was charged as a juvenile because by Maryland law, a person younger than 14 cannot be charged as an adult with murder, said Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for the Prince George's state's attorney's office.

If he is found "involved," which is the juvenile court equivalent of guilty, he probably will be remanded to a program for troubled youths. He can be held until he is 21.

Judge Melanie M. Shaw Geter, chief administrative judge for the juvenile court, ordered a psychiatric evaluation of the boy, who is being held at the Cheltenham Youth Facility. His merits hearing, which is akin to a trial for juveniles, is scheduled for May 15.

Police found the metal bar in a drainage ditch near the apartment Powe shared with her sons. The family had lived for about a year in the Penn Mar Apartments, a development of beige, garden-style buildings in the 3700 block of Donnell Drive between Pennsylvania Avenue and Suitland Parkway.

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