A 12-year-old boy charged with killing his infant cousin should get more than the maximum two-year sentence allowed for juveniles, Cobb County's district attorney said Friday.
"When the case involves the murder of a 5-week-old child, it seems the punishment is disproportionate to the crime given the severity in this case," District Attorney Pat Head said.
But at the child's arraignment Friday, Juvenile Court Judge A. Gregory Poole ruled that the boy, who lives in Tampa, should be charged as a juvenile.
"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 four-foot 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 ordered that the boy remain in custody until his trial, scheduled for Sept. 8.
Recent changes in the law could possibly allow for the boy to receive more than two years as a juvenile, 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.
In other developments Friday, in response to arguments by the AJC, Judge Poole opened the proceedings, which normally are closed to the public. Poole also specified that the boy not be identified.
"There is plenty of interest concerning the case and I think there is a compelling reason to open the case," Poole said.
Details of the baby's death or the motive were not discussed.
Police say a 22-year-old Kennesaw woman left her infant daughter in the car with the boy on July 4 while she went into the Target on Dallas Highway.
When the woman returned from the store, 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.
Police have not identified the baby's mother. According to prosecutors, she was not in the courtroom on Friday.
But the suspect's mother was present. She cried throughout hearing and signed the not-guilty plea next to her son.
The boy's father, who is deployed with the U.S. Army, will be granted special permission to attend the trial, the judge said.