A baby sitter left in charge of two brothers was away making moving arrangements when a 9-year-old boy stabbed and killed his 11-year-old brother in Bellflower on Saturday, authorities said Monday.
Sheriff's detectives are determining whether the woman, who had been living with the boys' family for about three months, should be charged with negligence, Deputy Boris Nikolof said.
Deputies declined to say exactly how long the baby sitter left the two brothers and her own 11-year-old son alone. But one neighbor said the woman returned to the family's townhouse at least four hours after paramedics took the older boy away.
The boy was killed after his brother stabbed him with a steak knife in their home. Deputies first believed the stabbing was accidental but took the 9-year-old into custody after interviewing him and the baby sitter's son, who witnessed the stabbing.
The young suspect is being held by the county's probation office, Nikolof said. Authorities withheld the name of the juvenile, who had yet to be charged Monday evening.
While detectives continued interviewing the younger boy, neighbors said the brothers were inseparable and expressed doubt that the 9-year-old boy maliciously stabbed his brother.
"It was just a freak accident," said one neighbor, who withheld her name but said her 8-year-old son often played with the two boys. "They were just normal kids . . . every time we saw them, they were together."
The two boys were well-known in the adjacent apartment complex. Both were polite, friendly and loved to wrestle with neighborhood children and play football on the sidewalk, said Mary Rodriguez, whose 9-year-old son, Kenny Vera, was friends with the brothers.
The brothers' mother had to work Saturday so she left her two sons and her second-grade daughter with her friend, who was living with her, Rodriguez said. The friend, however, left the house, taking the little girl with her and leaving the brothers and her own son behind. Rodriguez said the baby sitter returned between 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
"She got hysterical when she heard," Rodriguez said. "She started blaming herself."