D.C. prosecutor Cynthia Wright handles some of the city’s most difficult cases: those involving the deaths of infants or young children. Since the fall, Wright has taken on 15 first-degree murder cases.
“These children didn’t get a chance to grow up,” Wright said.
Here are some of her recent cases:
Kamari Taylor, 4
In August, 2013, prosecutors say, Peter Hendy II, 33, was babysitting his girlfriend’s son, Kamari Zavon Taylor, while the boy’s mother went to work.
Hendy scolded Kamari for riding a scooter, and when the child told him, “I don’t have to listen to you — you’re not my daddy,” Hendy flew into a rage, prosecutors said. They said Hendy punched the boy four or five times.
Kamari’s liver was severed in three places and the medical examiner found fist marks on the boy’s skin. Hendy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and earlier this month was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Dominic Kingsbury Jr., 20 months
Prosecutors said Steven Cephas was baby-sitting his girlfriend’s son, Dominic Kingsbury Jr., in November 2010 when the boy’s mother went to work.
According to prosecutors, Cephas was playing video games in a Northeast apartment and he became angry when Dominic awakened. Cephas severely beat the boy, hit him in the head and threw him against a wall, authorities said.
Cephas, 24, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
Keyontae Osbia Moore, 20 months
In March 2012, prosecutors say, Jonathan Fullard, 30, was baby-sitting his girlfriend’s son, Keyontae Moore in Southeast when Fullard called his girlfriend to say the child wasn’t breathing.
Keyontae was taken to a nearby hospital where doctors found trauma to the boy’s head and body, authorities said. The medical examiner said Keyontae died from multiple blunt force trauma. There were also signs Keyontae was sexually assaulted. Fullard later pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender.
Hiawatha Jackson, 7 weeks
In 2011, Hiawatha’s father, Hiawatha A. Henry, 24, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter after his son died in his care
According to prosecutors, Henry was watching his son and another infant at the children’s mother’s house in Northeast. He told police that he sat on a futon to feed Hiawatha, but the futon was broken and both he and the baby fell. Hiawatha hit his head on the metal leg of the piece of furniture, Henry told authorities.
Later that evening, Henry’s aunt called paramedics and rushed the baby to the hospital. Henry never told doctors about the fall. Instead, he said the infant began vomiting while he was feeding him. Doctors later released the infant to return home with his father. During the night, the baby continued crying. After he was taken back to the hospital the next day, doctors discovered the infant was bleeding inside his brain. Hiawatha fell into a coma and died. According to a medical examiner’s report, Hiawatha died of abusive head injuries with a brain contusion.
Henry was sentenced to three years in prison.
Baby Joseph, newborn
Sosefina Amoa, 26, is charged with smothering her newborn son, whom she named Joseph, in October while she was a resident at the Little Sisters of the Poor convent in Northeast Washington.
Amoa, who arrived in the District from the Pacific Island nation of Samoa days before the birth, was at the convent studying to become a nun. Prosecutors originally charged Amoa with first-degree murder, but have offered her a plea deal to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. Amoa’s next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.
Lillian Alvarado, 21, is charged with first-degree murder and cruelty to children in connection with the Thanksgiving death of her newborn son.
Prosecutors say Alvarado dismembered and suffocated the infant. Authorities said police arrived at her apartment just before noon on Nov. 28, summoned by downstairs neighbors who had noticed blood-tinged water leaking through their ceiling. Coming out of the bathroom, Alvarado sat on a bed moments before officers found the body, and she said, “Forgive me,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
A judge recently ordered Alvarado temporarily housed at St. Elizabeths Hospital, the District’s psychiatric facility. Her next hearing is scheduled for March 21.
Hakeem Brown, 1 month
Tisheena L. Brown, 31, is charged with felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children in the September death of her month-old son, Hakeem. Prosecutors said Brown told detectives she gave her son a fatal dose of prescription allergy and motion sickness medication. Brown, according to court charging documents, told the detectives she gave her son the drugs because he was being “fussy” and wasn’t keeping food down. Brown’s next hearing is scheduled for March 21.
Reise Jones, 7 months
Phyllis Brown, 62, is charged with murder in the 2009 death of seven-month-old Reise, whom Brown was babysitting.
An autopsy revealed Reise died of blunt trauma to the head and found bruises to the child’s head and legs, according to authorities.
Brown is charged with felony murder and cruelty to children. Wright offered Brown a plea deal to a lesser charge of cruelty to children, which Brown rejected. The trial is scheduled for June 30.