Merced Teen Accused of Killing a Toddler

Merced, CA, USA Here in juvenile court this morning, the public defender said the 16 year old never even meant to seriously hurt his young cousin. But police say the autopsy results show severe injuries that do not appear accidental.

Caleb Hegland, Dep. Public Defender: "He's very scared and he feels very alone right now."

Deputy Public Defender Caleb Hegland says his 16 year old client never intended to kill 21 month old King McCowan.

Caleb Hegland: "A child died, and of course the death of any child is tragic, however as a matter of law, this minor is not guilty of murder. The death itself was a horrible accident."

Judge Thomas Burr entered not guilty pleas for the teen, who's identity is being protected because he is a juvenile. But Merced police say the teen admitted to beating King on Saturday while the toddler's mother was in the Bay Area. Preliminary autopsy results show the little boy died from a blow to his stomach that caused severe trauma. Merced Police Commander Floyd Higdon says King also had bruises and cuts to his upper body.

Cmdr. Floyd Higdon, Merced Police Dept.: "They're serious injuries. There was some severe damage done to this baby. And that's very unfortunate. Intention I can't tell you, but this was not an "accidental" type death. "

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to charge the 16 year old as an adult. The district attorney's office is also waiting to decide whether King's parents will face any criminal charges.

Higdon: "Right now they're concentrating on who we have in custody, but once all the information is received by them they will make that determination."

Family members did not want to speak on camera today, but they did tell us they're planning to hold a car wash to raise money for king's funeral. They'll be at the Merced Gas Station across from Merced High School on Olive Avenue all day on Saturday.

They've also set up a bank account at Washington Mutual. The account number is 3574798698.


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