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An Alabama man and his girlfriend have been formally charged with capital murder in the death of 3-year-old Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, who disappeared during a birthday party in Birmingham earlier this month.
The charges against Patrick Devone Stallworth, 39, and Derick Irisha Brown, 29, were filed Thursday by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office, AL.com reports. The couple could face the death penalty if they are convicted.
“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the family as they grieve the loss of Kamille,” District Attorney Danny Carr said.
McKinney disappeared the night of Oct. 12 while she was at a birthday party at an apartment complex where her family lived, according to local station WGHP. Witnesses reported seeing a couple trying to lure children with candy around the time the young girl disappeared.
Investigators also later released video surveillance footage outside of the housing complex that showed a man stopping to talk with two children—one of whom is believed to be McKinney—and then walking out of view as the children followed behind.
Authorities quickly focused in on Stallworth as a possible suspect after he was captured on surveillance footage at a nearby convenience store around the time McKinney was abducted. Investigators also impounded the couple’s SUV, which matched the description of the car seen in the area that night, WHNT reports.
The young girl’s body was found in a dumpster at a landfill earlier this week.
Investigators believe McKinney was taken because the couple saw an opportunity to abduct her, Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith said.
“It only takes a split second,” he said, according to WHNT. “We can no longer assume that everyone is part of the village that is trying to raise the child.”
In their first public comments to the media, Stallworth’s family released a statement saying the allegations against him don't represent the family’s values.
“Patrick was reared in a family with strong values. The actions he is alleged to have done in no way reflect who we are as a family. We ask that our family not be judged by the actions of one individual. We abhor senseless violence, and even more so, we condemn acts of violence against defenseless children,” the statement obtained by AL.com said.
They also expressed grief for McKinney and her family.
"We are deeply saddened by the death of little Kamille McKinney. We offer our heartfelt prayers and sympathy to her family, but we know this is not enough. This precious child should have had a chance to enjoy life and pursue her dreams,” they wrote.
The family went on to say that they are “distraught” that a member of their family has been charged with the “heinous” act.
“Patrick Stallworth’s fate will be determined by a system of laws—a system that we revere and respect.”
Stallworth was initially taken into police custody shortly after McKinney disappeared after investigators allegedly discovered images of child pornography on his cell phone. He’s been charged with four counts of possession of child pornography and three counts of possession of child pornography with intent to distribute.
Although Stallworth was initially released on $500,000 bond, he was taken back into custody Tuesday as investigators prepared to file the new charges against him.
Brown was also initially taken into custody on unrelated charges concerning the alleged kidnapping of her own children.
Stallworth and Brown are both being held at the Jefferson County Jail without bond, The New York Post reports.
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