Tod­dler died af­ter ‘ex­tremely vi­o­lent’ beat­ing, pros­e­cu­tor says

Daily Press - - Local News - By Jonathan Ed­wards Staff writer Jonathan Ed­wards, 757-598-3453, jonathan.ed­wards@pi­lo­ton­line.com.

NOR­FOLK — A babysit­ter charged with mur­der in the death of an 18month-old boy was de­nied a bond Wed­nes­day be­cause of what the judge called “ex­tremely com­pelling ev­i­dence” against her.

Ashadiya’ Xolani Brooks, 35, is charged with sec­ond­de­gree mur­der, ac­cused of beat­ing the child while watch­ing him on Oct. 23. The tod­dler was de­clared brain dead two days later.

De­fense at­tor­ney Brett Lu­cas told Judge Robert Smith III his client called 911 when she no­ticed the boy wasn’t re­spond­ing, has a min­i­mal crim­i­nal his­tory and turned her­self in to po­lice when they asked her to come to the sta­tion.

But pros­e­cu­tor Jill Har­ris de­scribed the beat­ing at Brooks’ home in the 1100 block of Porter Road, near Naval Sta­tion Nor­folk, as bru­tal. A doc­tor who spe­cial­izes in child abuse for Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of The King’s Daugh­ters dis­cov­ered the boy had se­vere bleed­ing and swelling on his brain, as well as a bro­ken skull, Har­ris told the judge.

“This was an ex­tremely vi­o­lent crime com­mit­ted against an in­no­cent, vul­ner­a­ble 18-month-old child,” she said dur­ing the hear­ing in Ju­ve­nile and Do­mes­tic Re­la­tions District Court.

Brooks’ ac­count of what hap­pened changed as she spoke with au­thor­i­ties over the next few days, Har­ris said. At first, she de­nied hav­ing any­thing to do with beat­ing the boy. She said he was lethar­gic that morn­ing when she started watch­ing him. When he had a seizure, she took him to the bath­room to splash wa­ter on his face, then to the kitchen to try to get him to drink some wa­ter.

Brooks told po­lice she called 911 and was put on hold — twice — be­fore fi­nally get­ting through on her third try around 11:45 a.m., Har­ris said, adding that she hasn’t con­firmed that yet with city of­fi­cials.

Later, Brooks told po­lice she was hav­ing mem­ory prob­lems, the pros­e­cu­tor said.

Fi­nally, she told them some­thing was com­ing back to her. Har­ris said Brooks re­called be­ing an­gry about stub­bing her toe, but said the boy got hurt when he fell back and hit his head while he was try­ing to take a toy bas­ket­ball from Brooks’ own 18month-old son.

But the judge, echo­ing Har­ris’ ac­count of the child abuse spe­cial­ist, said the boy couldn’t have been that badly hurt by such a fall.

Brooks has been ac­cused of child abuse be­fore, Har­ris said, as she showed the judge an or­der from a Hamp­ton judge re­mov­ing her other son from her cus­tody. Brooks’ mother con­tacted Nor­folk pros­e­cu­tors and de­tec­tives to make sure they knew of the past al­le­ga­tions against her daugh­ter.

Lu­cas coun­tered by say­ing the pre­vi­ous ac­cu­sa­tions came amid a cus­tody bat­tle over the child. He said the judge should let Brooks out of jail be­cause she could live with her hus­band, who’s en­listed in the Navy, and rel­a­tives are now tak­ing care of Brooks’ chil­dren: the 18-month-old boy as well as a 10-year-old.

But Har­ris called Brooks a flight risk, not­ing that — even though she’s lived in the re­gion for 13 years — she fled to her na­tive Con­necti­cut with her son to es­cape a cus­tody bat­tle. Also, Brooks has been un­em­ployed for four months and, other than her hus­band of two years, has no fam­ily in the area. Smith or­dered that Brooks stay in jail with­out bond.

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