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Judge orders state custody for child

BELLEVILLE (AP) – A 9-year-old boy charged with first-degree murder in the beating death of a southwestern Illinois toddler should be held in state custody and given a mental health evaluation, a judge ordered.

Associate Judge Walter Brandon on Thursday ordered that the Illinois Department of Human Services take custody of the boy, who is not being identified because of his age. He’s charged as a juvenile in the Aug. 22 death of a 14-month-old boy at a home in Cahokia, an Illinois suburb of St. Louis.

The Belleville News Democrat reports the 9-year-old boy sat quietly and looked straight ahead as prosecution and defense lawyers argued about what to with him Thursday.

Defense attorney Bill Walker told the judge that the boy’s mother and grandmother both died years ago and that the other adults in his life have been incarcerated after being charged with child endangerment in the case. Prosecutors alleged those three allowed the toddler to be left unsupervised in the Cahokia home with four other children.

Walker noted that other relatives came to the boy’s court hearing Thursday. The judge, however, ordered the child kept in state and also ordered that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation by doctors at the Alton Mental Health Center.

Walker argued that the boy does not suffer from mental health problems.

“The issue here is maturity,” Walker said.

Assistant State’s Attorney Anna Young had asked the judge to put the boy in Human Services’ custody in order to “get him some treatment and placement.”

The judge also appointed a guardian to represent the boy’s legal interests and set a Nov. 28 hearing to review the findings of the psychiatrist’s evaluation.

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