• August 20, 2014

Teenager sentenced to 12 years in child’s 2011 death

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Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013 4:30 am

BELTON — A judge sentenced a 15-year-old Killeen boy to 12 years of confinement Friday for the 2011 death of a 19-month-old girl.

The teenage defendant, whom the Herald will not name because he is a minor, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in December in the 2011 death of Janyha Christine Graves.

Authorities took the boy to the Bell County Juvenile Detention Center. He will be transferred to a Texas Juvenile Justice Department facility and eventually to state prison.

Police arrested the teenaged boy on April 12, 2011, after Janyha Graves died at a hospital. He spent about 68 days in custody before being released to his parents.

Prosecutor John Gaunnt Jr. said investigators never learned exactly how the boy, then 14, killed the girl. She suffered multiple injuries to her head.

The teenager remained somewhat uncooperative during the investigation, and did not take responsibility for Graves’ death even after pleading guilty.

“He caused the death of a child, and there is no excuse for it,” Gauntt told the court.

County Court-at-Law No. 1 Judge Edward Johnson said that because the youth refused to take responsibility for the girl’s death, he felt that probation was not a proper sentence.

In delivering the sentence, Johnson said the boy appeared to have little to no remorse for Graves’ death and blamed others for his arrest and trial.

Dressed in thin, black jeans and a gray short-sleeved button-down shirt, the 15-year-old showed no emotion as Johnson pronounced his sentence.

As the sentence was read, one woman sitting in support of the teenager began weeping. After the hearing concluded, she tearfully remarked that the sentence was “not fair.”

Authorities originally charged the teen with injury to a child. That charge was later upgraded when he was indicted.

He had been baby-sitting Graves along with two other children, ages 4 and 7, at a home in the 5400 block of Lauren Lea Drive the day the child was hurt.

Neighbors called police after the teenager told them about an unconscious child. Emergency personnel airlifted the child to Scott & White Hospital in Temple, where she died the following day.

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