Authorities in Mobile, Alabama, have charged a 9-year-old girl with felony assault for her role in the death of her 4-year-old brother.
The young girl is the second person charged in the tragic death of the little boy, King Lyons, who was found unresponsive and suffering from signs of child abuse at his home Feb. 3.
Officers had responded to "a medical emergency involving a child" inside a residence at the 1800 block of Jacob Drive in Mobile, according to a statement. Medical first responders pronounced the boy dead on the scene.
A day later, authorities arrested the boy's aunt and caretaker, 53-year-old Yolanda Coale, and charged her with aggravated child abuse.
But more details about the horrific case have since emerged.
According to court documents released this week, Coale alerted police upon being woken up by the sound of screams only to discover the 9-year-old girl violently beating her 4-year-old brother with a broomstick.
In the complaint, prosecutors state that the girl, whose identity remains protected, "did willfully torture, willfully abuse, and cruelly beat" her brother, WPMI-TV reported.
But prosecutors also alleged that the presence of past injuries and other signs indicate that the boy suffered long-term abuse, though it was unclear how exactly he was abused.
New details reveal 9-year-old charged in 4-year-old's death youtu.be
Coale remains in custody on a $150,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
But a friend of Coale's, who wished to remain anonymous, told WALA-TV this week that something doesn't add up.
"I've never seen her yell at anyone, scream, or lose her temper," the friend reportedly said. "I'm unaware of any abuse that Ms. Coale could be accused of. I've never seen her be aggressive to anyone. To me, her children, her grandchildren."
The court documents that reported long-term abuse did not say that Coale was involved, though that is the subject of an ongoing investigation.
A representative from the Child Advocacy Center told WPMI that the 9-year-old's alleged behavior is extremely unusual and could be the result of her seeing or experiencing child abuse firsthand.
"We all tend to parent the way we were parented. It's an old wives' tale but it's the truth," he said.
Details about the 9-year-old's scheduled court appearances have yet to be reported.
The crime sent shockwaves through the community.
One neighbor, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told WPMI they couldn't believe the crime happened so close to their home and added that they never would have suspected such violence coming from this particular family.
"They seemed like a really nice family and there’s always a lot of kids over there playing all the time, so it was really devastating to hear what happened," the neighbor said.
"I’ve been over there before. It’s really a nice house, it's clean on the inside and the kids have nice toys. The kids always dress nice, so I really don’t understand what happened," they added.