The stepmother of a 3-year-old boy who died earlier this year in Boston has been indicted on murder charges.
Maria Buie, the 23-year-old stepmother of Kenai Whyte, was indicted by a grand jury Friday on a charge of second-degree murder.
"Since the moment we learned of his terrible injuries, prosecutors and police detectives have been gathering facts, evidence, and medical opinions with an eye only to determining the truth," Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said in a statement Friday. "We never lost sight of the devastating tragedy Kenai's loving family suffered in his death, or our fundamental duty to speak for the tiny, innocent boy whose life was taken."
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Kenai died in February after being rushed to Boston Medical Center with traumatic injuries. He was found unresponsive in his family's Roxbury home on Jan. 31. He died at a hospital two days later.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that the boy's death was a homicide caused by blunt force trauma.
Buie turned herself in to police last month on assault and battery charges. She pleaded not guilty and was held on $100,000 bail.
"This is ridiculous," she said before entering the police station.
Prosecutors said in court last month that Kenai had severe injuries when he was taken to the hospital, including fractured vertebrae in his neck, hemmoraghing, bruising to his scalp, ears and forehead and scratches down the left side of his torso.
The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families confirmed that it had an open case with the family at the time of Kenai's death. Gov. Charlie Baker said a DCF social worker spoke to a "care provider" for Kenai just days before he was rushed to the hospital and was told that the boy was well-fed, clean and had no behavioral issues. Baker and DCF have not identified that care provider.
Kenai's grandmother, Debra Morris-Covington, told necn in February that Kenai's father was at work and Kenai was at home with Buie at the time of his injuries. Kenai's father had legal custody of the boy.
Morris-Covington said she had complained to DCF multiple times over the years that Kenai wasn't being properly cared for but nothing was done. She said her grandson was "scared to death" of Buie.
Buie's indictment moves the case from Roxbury Municipal Court to Suffolk Superior Court. Her arraignment in superior court has not yet been scheduled.