MILWAUKEE -- One of three sisters accused in the beating of a 10-year-old boy that was recorded and posted to Facebook is headed to trial.
26-year-old Aashley McKinney-Williams appeared in court on Monday, May 15th for her preliminary hearing. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of child abuse -- intentionally causing harm, as party to a crime, and obstructing an officer.
29-year-old Jealissa McKinney-Williams faces the same charges, and has a jury trial set to begin on August 2nd. She has also pleaded not guilty.
The third sister, 31-year-old Ebonnee McKinney-Williams is charged with obstructing an officer. She's due in court on June 12th for her initial appearance.
According to a criminal complaint, on March 1st, an anonymous call came in to Milwaukee police requesting a welfare check on a child after a "disturbing video" was discovered on Facebook, showing a child, around the age of eight, being "severely beaten" by a woman. The complaint states that "due to the severity of the video, officers worked through the night to determine where the video was filmed and locate the child in the video to ensure his safety and determine the extent and nature of his injuries."
Investigators determined the video had been recorded at the "White Birch Apartments" near 76th and Glenbrook. Police learned two black women and six children had moved out of the complex.
Prosecutors say in the video, the boy screams and cries in pain, and tries to cover his body to block the blows from the belt he was being beaten with. The complaint says he was struck with such force that he fell down, and as he was pleading, screaming and crying, his mother sat on his back with her leg over his head and repeatedly hit him -- dozens of times.
"I would say my sister is a very good mother and this is not something she would do. She was caught off-guard and it's not something that happens often. It really rarely ever happens. There's a lot of lies being told. I feel what I seen then, my sister at a state when she was pretty angry. It's not something that goes on on a constant basis. There was something going on she was pretty angry about. It could maybe have been handled differently, but it's a once in a lifetime thing," Aashley McKinney-Williams told FOX6 News on Thursday, May 4th.
The complaint states that investigators learned the names of Aashley McKinney-Williams and Ebonnee McKinney-Williams were associated with the child abuse video that had been posted to Facebook. Investigators made contact with Aashley McKinney-Williams, who stated "she was not aware of any video posted to Facebook." When she was shown still photos from the video, she stated that she could not identify anyone in the photos. When shown the video, the complaint indicates she told investigators the woman seen in the video was her sister, and she was beating her son. Prosecutors say Aashley McKinney-Williams told investigators the video was recorded at her old apartment near 76th and Glenbrook. She denied any knowledge of who recorded the video, but said it was "taken on her phone," and said her niece had "jumped her" in February and taken her phone. After that, she said "someone had posted videos and pictures from her phone on the internet."
Aashley McKinney-Williams told FOX6 News on Thursday it was "another relative" who recorded the beating.
"She's looking to retaliate against me and my sisters, so she pretty much posted the video after recording it, but it was her who recorded it," McKinney-Williams said.
Investigators spoke with Ebonnee McKinney-Williams, who stated she'd been told about the video two weeks prior, and said Aashley McKinney-Williams showed it to her. Prosecutors say Ebonnee McKinney-Williams told investigators she was in Tennessee when the video was recorded.
The complaint makes reference to an anonymous call to investigators, indicating it was Jealissa McKinney-Williams who was recorded beating her son with a belt, who was naked from the waist down during the beating. Jealissa McKinney-Williams was charged with one count of child abuse -- intentionally causing harm and one count of resisting or obstructing an officer in March. This anonymous caller told investigators "someone caught the children having sex," and the caller believed Ebonnee McKinney-Williams was in the home at the time of the alleged beating.
Prosecutors say investigators had difficulty locating Jealissa McKinney-Williams and her four children "because they were not enrolled in school, and there was no record of any recent medical care for them." The complaint indicates Jealissa McKinney-Williams eventually contacted police and agreed to meet with investigators.
According to the complaint, when investigators showed up at a home near 34th and Locust, Aashley McKinney-Williams and Jealissa McKinney-Williams were located, and Jealissa McKinney-Williams was placed in police custody after prosecutors say she told investigators her children were in Tennessee. The complaint indicates Aashley McKinney-Williams let officers into the home once they threatened to force entry. Jealissa McKinney-Williams' two oldest children were found hiding in a bedroom, even after prosecutors say Aashley McKinney-Williams advised that all four of Jealissa McKinney-Williams' children were in Tennessee with their grandmother. The complaint says investigators even spoke with that "grandmother" on the telephone, who advised that two of the children were with her -- when, prosecutors say, they were instead inside that home at 34th and Locust. Both were found to have significant injuries. The complaint says Ebonnee McKinney-Williams and "several other small children" were also in the home. Jealissa McKinney-Williams' other two children were found at a neighbor's home.
Investigators spoke with Ebonnee McKinney-Williams, who advised she was living in the home at 34th and Locust with her five children and Aashley McKinney-Williams and her children. She stated that Jealissa McKinney-Williams did not live with them. She denied knowledge that Jealissa McKinney-Williams' children were in the home, and said she "didn't know how they got inside." She advised that Jealissa McKinney-Williams' two youngest children were not at the home.
Investigators spoke with the neighbor, who indicated she saw the video allegedly showing Jealissa McKinney-Williams beating her child on Facebook, and she went next door to talk with Jealissa about it. The complaint says Ebonnee McKinney-Williams stopped the neighbor and told the neighbor not to tell Jealissa about the video. The neighbor said she was told that Aashley McKinney-Williams recorded the video.
The complaint says when interviewed by police, Jealissa McKinney-Williams told investigators she lived at the home at 34th and Locust with her sisters, Aashley McKinney-Williams and Ebonnee McKinney-Williams. Prosecutors say she admitted to "whooping" two of her children "once or twice a month, mostly for stealing." She admitted that the video on Facebook had been recorded at her sister Aashley's old apartment near 76th and Glenbrook. Jealissa said her sister Aashely had given Jealissa her belt to use to beat the child in the video. Prosecutors say Jealissa admitted to causing injuries to two of her children from "whooping them with belts."
Two of Jealissa McKinney-Williams' children were interviewed by investigators. According to the complaint, one of the children said "when he gets in trouble, he gets hit by his Aunt Aashley, his Aunt Ebonnee and his mother," indicating "Aashley and Ebonnee hit with their hands, and his mom hits him and his sibling with a belt." He said on the day of the alleged beating that was caught on camera, he had been "talking smack" to his aunt. He said he was hit by Ebonnee and his mother, and the beating occurred at Aashley's home.
The complaint states the alleged beating caught on camera is believed to have happened in late 2016. A cousin of Aashley McKinney-Williams told investigators Aashley was showing the video to people and "laughing about it." A niece of Aashley McKinney-Williams told investigators Aashley had recorded video of her sister beating her child at Aashley's old apartment.