By RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The grandmother of a 14-year-old girl arrested in the fatal stabbing of her 4-year-old cousin said Monday she's devastated by the child's death and dumbfounded because the teenager loved and doted on the little boy.
Angie Shanks told The Associated Press that her granddaughter lives with her in Indianapolis and had been looking forward to the weekend visit by her cousin and his 11-year-old sister.
Shanks said there had been no problems between the teen and the boy. In fact, she said her teenage granddaughter had been eager to spend time with her cousins — the little boy in particular — during their first weekend visit in some time and stayed home to do that, rather than going out with friends.
"He was a precious, precious sweet little boy and his cousin loved him so much that I don't understand what happened. She loved him so much. They were so close," she said, sobbing. "I don't know to what to say, except that I've lost two grandchildren I loved very much."
The 14-year-old faces a preliminary murder charge in Leon Thomas III's death. Prosecutors will decide, possibly by Wednesday, whether she'll face formal charges and, if she does, if she'll be charged as a juvenile or adult.
Indianapolis police were called about 11 p.m. Saturday to Shanks' apartment, where they found the bleeding boy, who was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Officers later found the 14-year-old girl, covered in blood and walking along a nearby street.
Shanks, who ended a brief telephone interview after she started crying, did not say what she thought had happened at her home Saturday night. Repeated calls to her apartment went unanswered Monday afternoon.
An online check of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department records shows that Shanks, 51, called police to her apartment Feb. 26 to report that her 14-year-old granddaughter had run away from home.
That report lists Shanks as the girl's court-appointed guardian and quotes her as telling officers, "this is not like her and that she has not been reported as a runaway in the past."
Brienne Delaney, a spokeswoman for the Marion County prosecutor's office, said Monday that prosecutors are reviewing police reports on Saturday night's stabbing. She said a decision on whether the teen will face formal charges could come as early as Wednesday, but added that prosecutors could ask a judge for more time.
If prosecutors settle on formal charges, Delaney said the teen will be formally charged during an initial hearing. If prosecutors determine that she should be charged as an adult, she said they would have to ask a court to waive her into adult court at some point after her initial hearing.
Delaney said it's "very rare" for the prosecutor's office to charge a juvenile with murder. Among the 3,500 to 4,000 juvenile cases the agency handles each year, she said typically only one involves a murder charge.
Police spokesman Sgt. Anthony Schneider said Monday that police would not comment further on the investigation now that prosecutors are considering possible charges.
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