Cobb County's district attorney said a 12-year-old boy charged with killing his 5-week-old cousin should get more than the maximum of two years in prison.
"When the case involves the murder of a five-week-old child, it seems the punishment is disproportionate to the crime given the severity in this case," Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head said Friday after the boy's arraignment.
The 12-year-old pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges he killed his cousin, Millan Young, outside a Target in Marietta.
Cobb County Juvenile Court Judge A. Gregory Poole ruled that the boy, of Tampa, should be charged as a juvenile. Under Georgia law, the maximum penalty a juvenile can receive is two years, Head said.
Recent changes in the law could possibly allow for the boy to receive more time, but it definitely would not be as severe as the punishment he could receive if convicted as an adult, Head said.
The boy is being held at the Cobb County Youth Detention Center on charges of murder and cruelty to children.
Poole explained the charges to the boy Friday.
"Felony means it is a big deal. It's a crime," the judge told the boy. "You unlawfully caused the death of Millan Young by using blunt force trauma to the head. ... They are saying you maliciously caused Millan Young cruel and obsessive physical pain by using blunt trauma to the head."
The 4-feet-tall boy - dressed in a dark blue jumpsuit, ankle shackles and handcuffs - nodded his head that he understood. His attorney then helped him stand up and sign his name to a not guilty plea.
The judge said the crime is serious and the boy will remain in custody until a trial, scheduled for Sept. 8.
Details of how the baby's death occurred or the motive were not discussed.
Police say a 22-year-old Kennesaw mother left her 5-week-old daughter in the car with the boy on July 4 while she went into the Target on Dallas Highway.
The mother came out of the store and the baby was not breathing, Cobb County Police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce said.
Paramedics rushed the baby to the hospital, where she was taken off life support and pronounced dead Sunday night.
An autopsy found the baby died of blunt force trauma, police said.
The baby's mother, who has not been identified, was not in the courtroom Friday. However, the boy's mother was present. She cried throughout hearing and signed the not-guilty plea next to her son.
The arraignment was held Friday after the judge listened to arguments from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, requesting access to the hearing. Poole ruled that media could be present as long as the boy is not identified.
"There is plenty of interest concerning the case and I think there is a compelling reason to open the case," Poole said Friday.
Defense attorney Bert W. Cohen objected to the media attending the arraignment. He declined to comment further.
Cohen also requested the trial be delayed while he awaits a psychological exam of the boy. Prosecutors said they are also waiting for DNA to be tested at the GBI crime lab.
The boy's father, who is currently deployed with the U.S. Army, will be granted special permission to attend the boy's trial, the judge said.
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