Couple indicted in death of 8-year-old son

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NEWARK, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray announced Jan. 25 that an Essex County grand jury had indicted Khadejrah Rawls, 28, and Christopher Spearman, 29, both of Newark, on first-degree aggravated manslaughter and other charges in connection with the death of Rawls’ 8-year-old son, Michael Moore Jr.

Assistant Prosecutor Amber Loughran, who is handling the case, said that Newark police responded to the couple’s North Munn Avenue home at approximately 9:54 a.m. on Oct. 2. The police had received a report of an unresponsive child. The boy was transported to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:36 a.m.

The child died from blunt force trauma. The state alleges he went into cardiac arrest after being assaulted.

In addition to being indicted on aggravated manslaughter, the 11-count indictment charges Rawls with promoting or facilitating the aggravated manslaughter for failing to take steps to protect her son.

She and Spearman, her live-in boyfriend, are also charged with endangering the welfare of a child for striking the child in the head and body, causing bruises and bodily injury.

The mother is individually charged with multiple counts of endangering the welfare of the child by abusing and/or neglecting him and by not providing adequate food, clothing or living conditions for him and her four other younger children.

Spearman is the father of the two youngest children.

Spearman is also charged with causing serious bodily injury to the victim and with possession of a weapon; in this case, the weapons have been identified as a belt, iron rod and/or wood stick. He is further charged with possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose.

Both Spearman and Rawls remain in custody at the Essex County Correctional Facility. They are scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in the indictment on Feb. 6 before Ronald D. Wigler, presiding judge of the Criminal Division.