An Atlanta woman who beat a toddler to death with a baseball bat for sneaking a cupcake was dealt a life sentence with the possibility of parole in December, prosecutors announced last week.
LaShirley Morris, 29, pleaded guilty on Dec. 11 to murdering 3-year-old Kejuan Mason with a baseball bat as punishment for eating a cupcake more than two years ago.
Her sister Glenndria Morris, 27, the child’s guardian, was also charged in the toddler’s death and is currently awaiting trial, a spokesperson for the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office said. The two siblings were originally indicted on several counts of murder, as well as aggravated assault and cruelty to children.
Prosecutors alleged LaShirley, who was furious the child had swiped the pastry, used a baseball bat to unleash a flurry of crushing blows to the 3-year-old on Oct. 21, 2017, clubbing him on the “head back, and buttocks,” according to an indictment obtained by Oxygen.com
“The child ate a cupcake that he was not given permission to eat,” Chris Hopper, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, told Oxygen.com. “The defendants referred to him as ‘stealing’ the cupcake and he was beaten to death because of it.”
Caregiver Glenndria, who was apparently present when the attack unfolded, did nothing to intervene, prosecutors said.
Kejuan was transported to Atlanta Medical Center South Campus where he died approximately 90 minutes after arriving, according to an autopsy report obtained by Oxygen.com.
The Morris sisters claimed the child died after choking on a cupcake. However, coroners determined the toddler died of brain injuries brought upon by blunt force trauma.
Kejuan’s biological mother, Georgina Mason, is a friend of Glenndria's, prosecutors said. Mason, who was arrested on reckless conduct charges last year, court documents show, lost custody of her children while she was locked up. Kejuan and his twin brother were subsequently placed in the care of the state Division of Family and Children Services. Mason later consented to giving custody of her children to Glenndria.
She was later released but claimed Glenndria barred her from seeing her twin boys. Mason became suspicious when she observed scratching and bruises on her sons, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Glenndria, however, claimed the injuries were sustained while playing with other children living in the home.
Investigators later learned seven people were living in the Morris sisters’ cramped and cockroach-infested two-bedroom home at the time of Kejuan’s death. Neighbors also told detectives the household’s children often knocked on their doors begging for food.
"I had that feeling that something was going wrong," Mason, the deceased boy's mother, told CBS 46 in 2017. "My child did not choke from a cupcake."
A judge denied Mason’s request to have her children removed from Glenndria's care three days before the toddler’s death, according to records, the Journal-Constitution reported.
“We tried to take care of him the best we could,” H.D. Morris, father of the accused sisters, claimed in court, the Journal-Constitution reported. “We’re holding on. It hurts bad, but we’re holding on. We hate that it happened.”
LaShirley is eligible for parole in 30 years. She’ll be in her late 60s.
“We think the parole board will do the right thing when the time comes,” her court-appointed private defense attorney Kenneth Wayne Sheppard told Oxygen.com.
Her lawyer, who insisted the 29-year-old is remorseful, called the court’s decision a “fair sentence.”
Last year, LaShirley was also slapped with battery charges for assaulting two other female prisoners while she was incarcerated, according to a separate indictment obtained by Oxygen.com.
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