ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – A six-year-old boy beat his newborn sister to death after their 62-year-old mother left her young children alone in a car for more than a half hour while she went to get her cellphone fixed, authorities on Florida’s Gulf Coast said.
Now the mother, Kathleen Marie Steele, is charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gulatieri said she went to a cellphone repair business in St. Petersburg on Monday and left her children in the car – the infant, a three-year-old, and six-year-old.
While Steele was gone, the baby began crying and the six-year-old began beating her to make her stop, the sheriff said.
“He was tossing that baby around like a rag doll,” the sheriff said during a press conference Thursday, shortly after Steele was arrested.
Nevertheless, “The mistake is with the adult, Kathleen Steele, not a six-year-old boy,” the sheriff said.
Gulatieri said the boy won’t face criminal charges. His mother, who lives in the St. Petersburg area, made her first court appearance Friday, saying only that she understood the charges. Her two sons have been placed in therapeutic foster care.
Her attorney, Robert Love, said he wouldn’t contest the state’s order for Steele to have no contact with children 18 or younger.
Gulatieri painted a picture of a single mother who seemed overwhelmed and ill equipped to care for her three young children in the months leading up to the baby’s death. He said Kathleen Steele’s husband died of cancer in 2011 and she paid a significant sum to be artificially inseminated with his frozen sperm to conceive her three-year-old son and newborn daughter, who was also named Kathleen. (AP)