Teen Father Is Charged With Killing 2-Year-Old

Zjaire Williams was
Zjaire Williams was "the light of our lives," his grandmother said. (Family Photo)
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By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 10, 2009

A 2-year-old Montgomery County boy known among family members for his constant smile and his habit of putting a baseball cap on backward at the start of each day was killed by his teenage father this week, police alleged yesterday.

Darryl E. Powell, 17, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Zjaire Williams, who was found with bruises on his body and cuts to his lips inside Powell's home Wednesday, police said. Zjaire, whose name was pronounced Zaire, lived with his mother and grandmother in Damascus but had spent the night at his father's residence.

"We are beyond devastated," said the child's maternal grandmother, LaSonia "Monique" Williams. "He was a beautiful, happy, vibrant, curly-haired little boy, the light of our lives."

Williams said the child, whom she nicknamed "Toogie," liked to wear a football helmet that belonged to a 12-year-old uncle, never mind that it was too large. "He wouldn't let you take it off," she said.

She said her 17-year-old daughter was in shock. "It's incomprehensible to us," Williams said.

Hoping they could help another child, Williams said, the family decided to donate Zjaire's organs.

About 6:20 a.m. Wednesday, police and rescue workers went to Powell's residence in the 9400 block of Merust Lane in Gaithersburg in response to a 911 call about an "unresponsive infant," county police said. Zjaire was taken to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The state medical examiner's office ruled the death a homicide, finding that it was caused by multiple injuries. The child had injuries to his head and abdomen.

Police said Zjaire's mother agreed to take Zjaire to his father's house after Powell asked whether the boy could spend the night with him. Investigators think the child was in good condition when he was dropped off, police said. Police are investigating how the injuries were incurred.

"Detectives were told that the father and son watched TV for a while and then both went to sleep on two separate sofas in the living room," police said in a statement. "Powell woke up during the early morning hours, and saw that his son was face down on cushions on the floor. He could not wake him."

Powell was being held without bond in the county jail last night. Online court records did not indicate that he had an attorney.

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