A federal grand jury has indicted a couple in the case of a little girl who went missing from a birthday party last year and was found dead in a dumpster ten days later with high levels of meth and sedatives in her systems.
Patrick Devone Stallworth, 40, and Derick Irisha Brown aka Quentesa Jackson, 29, were each indicted with one count of kidnapping and one count of conspiracy to kidnap a minor victim.
Both have already been formally charged in state court with capital murder of a child under age 14 over the death of Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney.
However prosecutors also pursued the federal route in hope that proving the kidnapping resulting in McKinney’s death would also get them minimum life sentence or death.
Both have blamed each other for the events that transpired last October in Birmingham, Alabama.
The indictments filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday could mean life in prison or death sentences for the pair if it’s proven that the child’s death resulted from the charges alleged in the indictments.
McKinney was initially reported missing after she disappeared from a birthday party at a playground on October 12.
Investigators say they suspected Stallworth and Brown within 24 hours of McKinney’s abduction.
Last December a two-and-a-half hour testimony from homicide Det. Jonathan Ross brought forward information as he chronicled the suspects’ actions leading up to McKinney’s death.
Homicide detective Ross testified that Stallworth previously purchased $81.91 worth of candy at a Shell Station near Tom Brown Village, the same housing location where McKinney lived.
Phone records show Stallworth was near Tom Brown Village at the time of McKinney’s abduction.
Testimony also showed Stallworth purchasing an energy drink and an erectile dysfunction pill at a convenience store near his home on the night of the abduction.
Minutes after buying the candy, two preteen girls were leaving cheerleading practice at Hayes K-8 school when the couple approached them in a blue SUV, Ross said.
One of the girls, aged 11, said Stallworth told her, ‘I’m looking for a girl that looks like you,’ and offered them candy. Ross said a 10-year-old boy told him that McKinney got into the car with the couple and that she was crying.
After hearing the preteens incident leaving cheer practice, detectives began to visit businesses around Tom Brown Village in hopes of finding additional security footage.
The Shell Station provided footage of the blue Toyota Sequioa that belonged to Stallworth and photos of Stallworth entering the store around noon.
The suspects were arrested two days after the child went missing, for unrelated charges, with Stallworth charged with seven counts of possession of child pornography after investigators found multiple photos on his phone – none of which were McKinney.
Brown was charged with violating probation conditions from a previous kidnapping case involving her own children.
Birmingham police homicide Detective Ross testified during a hearing that Brown told police she saw her boyfriend, Patrick Stallworth, forcing the child to perform oral sex on him at their Center Point apartment.
She claimed she went to sleep and when she woke the next morning and asked about where the child was, he told her she was high.
Ross said Brown said she later saw Stallworth leave the apartment with a trash bag.
Brown gave investigators hints about where McKinney’s remains were located, leading authorities to discovering her body in a dumpster.
Both Stallworth and Brown have maintained their innocence, with Stallworth telling a judge he doesn’t understand why he’s being charged in the slaying ‘of this child.’
During testimony, Stallworth told investigators he had no involvement in McKinney’s death and Brown was solely responsible for the horrific crime.
He alleges that he lied about his knowledge of the incident because of his love for Brown.
AL.com previously reported that Ross said Stallworth admitted to seeing McKinney for the first time on the night of her abduction.
Stallworth claims he walked into the couple’s apartment to find Brown sitting with McKinney on the couch.
He reportedly told Brown, ‘That’s not your child,’ to which the woman said she wanted to ‘keep’ the young child.
Brown then suggested that Stallworth ‘do something sexual to the child’ before he refused and went outside to smoke a cigarette, Ross said.
During this time Brown had removed the child’s clothes and hair bows to give her a bath.
Later, Stallworth alleged seeing Brown ‘put her hands over Cupcake’s nose and mouth’ when McKinney was asleep.
An inmate at the same jail as Stallworth claimed he admitted he ‘accidentally killed the baby’.
Testimony showed that investigators removed a plastic mattress covering from the couple’s living room that had blood stains in several places.
Lab testing revealed that the blood had mixed traces of DNA belonging to Stallworth, Brown and McKinney.
DNA from Stallworth showed up under the child’s fingernails. Officers said that while Stallworth was in custody he had scratches on his chest.
Stallworth’s attorney pointed out that McKinney had been swabbed for DNA and medical staff found no sign of sexual assault.
However, the condition of McKinney’s body after it was found by authorities made it difficult to if anything sexual had been done to the child.
The child’s cause of death was asphyxiation by suffocation. The toddler had toxic levels of methamphetamine and the anti-depressant Trazodone in her body. Stallworth had a prescription for Trazodone but he claimed Brown was stealing his pills and taking them with meth.
Stallworth and Brown have been charged with capital murder of a child under age 14.
But prosecutors have also pursued the federal kidnapping charges in hope of securing a minimum life sentence or death.
‘The kidnapping of a child is one of a parent’s biggest fears.’ First Assistant United States Attorney Lloyd C. Peeples said.
‘Despite their best efforts, federal, state, and local law enforcement were not able to bring the three-year-old victim home to her family. However, we hope that today’s charges will be a step towards bringing justice for her and her family.’
‘Again, if we prove death resulted from the kidnapping, which shouldn’t be a hard thing to prove, if we do that then they will get a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison with no possibility of parole. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring justice to the family.’
‘This case is an excellent example of the seamless cooperation and coordination by federal agencies and our state and local partners,’ U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona said. ‘Federal law enforcement stands ready to assist whenever our help is needed.’