August 5, 2020

Couple charged with kidnapping, murder of Alabama toddler now face federal charges

A couple held on state murder charges in the slaying of an Alabama toddler last year have now been indicted on federal charges, authorities said Wednesday.

The tragic disappearance of Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney, 3, gained national attention. After being missing for more than a week, the Birmingham girl’s remains were located in a trash bin that had been taken to a landfill.

Patrick Devone Stallworth, 40, and Derick Irisha Brown, 29, were later charged with murder in the case. Stallworth and Brown were named in U.S. District Court on kidnapping and conspiracy charges, prosecutors said in a news release.

The two, whom authorities have described as boyfriend and girlfriend, are accused in the abduction of  McKinney, who was taken from a Birmingham housing community in October and found dead 10 days later.

Authorities said the girl was with her mother at a birthday party in a housing project near downtown Birmingham when she was kidnapped about 8:30 p.m. Saturday. Other children said someone got out of an SUV, grabbed the girl and drove away, police said.

A tip led officers to an apartment where the vehicle sought by police was parked just a few miles from where the child was last seen.

Defense lawyers have said Stallworth and Brown are innocent. Police have testified that the two blamed each other for what happened to the girl.

“This case is an excellent example of the seamless cooperation and coordination by federal agencies and our state and local partners,” Interim U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Prim F. Escalona said in a statement. “Federal law enforcement stands ready to assist whenever our help is needed.”

If proven that McKinney’s death resulted from the charges alleged in the federal indictments, Stallworth and Brown would face a minimum sentence of life in prison, with a death sentence also on the table for each. At this time, the defendants have only been charged and remain presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

“The kidnapping of a child is one of a parent’s biggest fears,” First Assistant United States Attorney Lloyd C. Peeples added. “Despite their best efforts, federal, state, and local law enforcement were not able to bring the 3-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.”