Keith Stephens, Jr. was killed over three years ago.
Mother arrested in 2017 murder of 2-year-old son
By WECT Staff | February 12, 2021 at 7:12 AM EST – Updated February 12 at 5:10 PM
PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Investigators have charged a woman with second-degree murder in the killing of her 2-year-old son more than three years ago.
Quanisha Jesha Fennell, 35, is also charged with felony child abuse in the death of Keith Stephens, Jr., according to the Burgaw Police Department. The toddler died on Dec. 11, 2017, and an autopsy revealed his cause of death was due to blunt force trauma and a lacerated liver.
Keith Stephens, Sr., the toddler’s father, previously told WECT he believed his son was being mistreated while in the care of the mother.
During Fennell’s first court appearance Friday morning, prosecutors said she admitted to getting angry and throwing her son.
“I want to remind the community what we say: ‘The wheels of justice grind way slower than many of us ever want but they never stop moving,’” says Ben David, District Attorney for Pender and New Hanover counties. “And that culminated with an arrest in this case last night.”
Fennell was appointed an attorney and given a $750,000 bond. Her next court date will be March 10.
“It truly represents the very best of what we do when we embrace a police-prosecutor team approach,” David added. “And we will, again, stop at nothing to get justice for our children here in Pender County.”
Burgaw police said on Dec. 11, 2017, officers spotted a man holding a small child in his arms traveling north on Progress Drive.
“The officers took the child and initiated CPR. The child, with CPR in progress, was taken to Pender Memorial Hospital by patrol vehicle, where he was later pronounced dead,” a news release stated.
The medical examiner noted in his report that Stephens Jr. was found unresponsive on the floor by Fennell’s boyfriend.
“They were apparently getting ready to go out and when he didn’t hear the child, he went to check on him and found him unresponsive on the floor by the bed,” the report stated.
Police say the investigation is still active and no further information will be released at this time.
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