Atlanta stepfather charged in 6-month-old’s death

Demarcus Dobbs, 22, is charged with child cruelty and second-degree murder in the death of his 6-month-old stepdaughter, Atlanta police said.
Demarcus Dobbs, 22, is charged with child cruelty and second-degree murder in the death of his 6-month-old stepdaughter, Atlanta police said.

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Fulton County Sheriff's Office

An Atlanta man is behind bars on a second-degree murder charge following the death of his 6-month-old stepdaughter Monday afternoon, authorities said.

Atlanta police responded to an apartment in the 600 block of Boulevard about 3:10 p.m. after receiving a call about an infant who wasn’t breathing, the department said in a news release. Firefighters and paramedics rendered aid at the scene before taking her to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding.

The child, identified Wednesday as Marklay Westbrook, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Homicide detectives and members of the department’s special victims unit were called in to investigate and interviewed Westbrook’s mother and stepfather, Atlanta police said.

The girl’s stepfather, 22-year-old Demarcus Dobbs, was arrested after investigators determined he was responsible for the child’s death “through negligence,” Atlanta police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant said. No additional details have been released, and the exact cause of Westbrook’s death hasn’t been determined, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Investigators charged Dobbs with one count of second-degree murder and two counts of second-degree cruelty. He also had a warrant stemming from a 2017 shoplifting charge, online records show.

He was booked into the Fulton County Jail, where he remained Wednesday afternoon without bond.

Dobbs’ arrest follows a string of several high-profile cases involving children’s deaths across metro Atlanta in recent months.

In Dunwoody, the owner of a home day care was recently charged with murder following the death of a 4-month-old boy she was looking after, authorities said. Police said Amanda Harris Hickey, 45, put the infant face-down for a nap Feb. 3 and didn’t check on him for more than 2½ hours. She was licensed to care for six children, but investigators said there were eight in her home on the day the child died. The Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning later issued an “intended order of emergency closure” to shut down the home day care.

In addition, a local babysitter and her boyfriend are charged in the beating death of 2-year-old Fallon Fridley, who died Dec. 10 after sustaining a skull fracture and multiple internal injuries the day before. Sandy Springs police have accused the fulltime babysitter, 29-year-old Kirstie Flood, of murder in her death, which a medical examiner ruled homicide by blunt force trauma. Flood’s live-in boyfriend, Jeffrey Scott Meyers, 28, was arrested on charges of child cruelty and second-degree murder after investigators determined he was in their apartment when the alleged abuse took place.

Last month, DeKalb County police arrested a 23-year-old following the death of his girlfriend’s 19-month-old son. Kentavious Hardnett, 23, reportedly told investigators the child fell off the bed while he was watching him at his Scottdale apartment. Authorities said the child suffered a skull fracture, a spinal injury and had multiple bruises, injuries police said were inconsistent with Hardnett’s story.

ExploreCops: DeKalb man charged in 19-month-old’s death said boy fell off bed

And a 20-year-old Tennessee woman who was visiting friends at a home in Canton in December was charged with murder after police said she fatally stabbed her young daughter and then harmed herself. The woman, Chloe Alexis Driver, was booked into the Cherokee County Jail following her release from the hospital, officials said.

— Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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