Wake County man charged with first-degree murder after death of 1-year-old

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Wake County child has died after being hospitalized with serious injuries - once again the result of child abuse according to Raleigh police.

And, once again, the child's mother's boyfriend is accused of inflicting those injuries.

But this time the suspect's family is speaking out and saying he couldn't have committed the crime.

"He's watched plenty of kids. And when I go and I call people and I tell them what's happening they are in disbelief because they all know this is not the man he is," Shanell Broussard told ABC11 after her brother Ricky Walker Jr. faced a judge for the first time at the Wake County Justice Center on Monday afternoon.

Walker, 31, was charged with felony intentional child abuse causing serious bodily injury. Those charges have now been upgraded to first-degree murder after the child did not survive.

On Tuesday, Walker appeared in court on the new charge.

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Child abuse suspect in court

According to his arrest warrant, the child, a 1-year-old girl, suffered bruising on her arm, an abrasion and swelling on her forehead, and bleeding under her skull.

A Raleigh Police incident report said the injuries were inflicted Friday night around 7:30.

A neighbor, who didn't want to be identified, says she heard loud noises in the apartment around that time.

She knows the baby girl and was upset when she read the description of the child's injuries.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. Terrible. I'm really in shock because I just could not believe, I can't believe this happened," she said.

She said the little girl lived in the same complex with her for a while now.

The child, the neighbor said, lived with her mother and three siblings and recently Walker, too.

"Beautiful baby, very friendly, very happy all the time," she said.

Walker's sister agreed, saying her brother fell for the child, "He loved that little girl so much."

Monday afternoon, Broussard, her mother, sister, and another brother sat in the courtroom awaiting his hearing.

All the women were crying.

Broussard said several family members noticed recently that the little girl wasn't acting like she normally does.

She said the girl appeared listless and they told the child's mother.

"Something was already wrong. She was a, this was a process. She was slowly, it was, her brain was shutting down then. We were trying to tell her there was something wrong with this baby," Broussard said.

Through tears, she said she believes another member of the little girl's family is responsible for the injuries and that they were inflicted days or weeks before her brother was caring for the child Friday night.

"He did not do this. All he did was try to help her and save her," she said.

The neighbor said whoever did it needs to be punished.

"This is a little tiny baby," she said. "How? What did this baby do to make you want to do something like that to it? I mean I could never understand that. I could just never understand. Beautiful baby, too. Terrible."
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