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‘I loved him so much’: Judge allows prosecutors to use interview of 5-year-old younger brother of Jayden Perkins with details of brutal stabbing

‘I loved him so much’: Judge allows prosecutors to use interview of 5-year-old younger brother of Jayden Perkins with details of brutal stabbing

Cook County prosecutors will be allowed to present statements made by the younger brother of Jayden Perkins hours after the 11-year-old boy was brutally stabbed, a judge ruled Monday, bringing into the trial that the 5-year-old boy told a child advocacy interviewer his mother’s ex-boyfriend “savaged” his mother and brother.

The video-recorded interview captured heartbreaking statements from the boy on the day his brother was killed and his pregnant mother was seriously injured in their Edgewater apartment, according to court filings, offering more details about the attack that drew sympathy and outrage for the family and raised questions about the handling of domestic violence cases. The alleged attacker was released from prison just a day before the killing.

Crosetti Brand, 37, an ex-boyfriend who had a documented history of violence against Jayden’s mother and other women, is charged with murder, attempted murder and other felonies in the March attack he allegedly perpetrated weeks after going to the family’s home and threatening Jayden’s mother.

“I loved him so much … I was crying,” the boy said of his older brother during the interview, according to court documents.

Family members gathered in the courtroom at the Leighton Criminal Court Building for the hearing, which took place under elevated security. They at times grew emotional hearing the boy’s words and Brand’s arguments, as he is representing himself.

Brand acting as his own attorney has sped up the proceedings, as he is seeking a quick trial date as soon as this summer.

Prosecutors sought to admit the interview given by the 5-year-old boy, referred to as K.M. in documents, to a forensic interviewer at the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, arguing it met the standards for exceptions to hearsay rules that generally prohibit the use of out-of-court statements from witnesses.

Judge Angela Petrone agreed, concluding that the statements are sufficiently reliable to be admissible at trial. Petrone said that the timing of the boy’s statement on the same day as the killing and the high pitch of his voice qualify as a “long excited utterance.”

“My brother was so nice to me,” Petrone said, reading the younger boy’s sentiment.

At the boy’s words, some family members in the courtroom gallery broke into quiet sobs.

Brand had objected to the use of the statement, arguing that a video cannot be cross-examined, and that the boy’s statements could have been influenced by family members.

On March 13, prosecutors have said, Jayden’s mother was on the phone with her mother while helping her two sons get ready for school. As she unlocked her door to leave, Brand forced his way inside and attacked her in the apartment in the 5900 block of North Ravenswood Avenue, according to prosecutors.

Tiwanna Perkins, aunt of slain 11-year-old Jayden Perkins, cries at a memorial for Perkins on March 15, 2024. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)
Tiwanna Perkins, aunt of slain 11-year-old Jayden Perkins, cries at a memorial for Perkins on March 15, 2024. (Vincent Alban/Chicago Tribune)

Jayden “attempted numerous times to help his mother” and was stabbed in the process, prosecutors said during a detention hearing earlier this year. His younger brother was on the couch while the attack unfolded.

Around 4:48 p.m. later that day, the younger brother sat with the interviewer in a room with two chairs, a table and a two-way mirror, court documents say. The interview ended around 5:14 p.m.

“I had school today…my mom got a text from him…my mom’s ex-boyfriend…my mom was opening a door and she saw him…he savaged, stabbed, my mother and brother with a knife,” he said, according to court documents. “Blood was everywhere.”

In delivering her order, Petrone noted that the boy spoke in long, spontaneous declarations without often needing to be prompted with questions. She read portions of the boy’s statements, and said the chaos of the day and quick turnaround for the interview left little time for the boy to be coached by family members.

The younger boy told the interviewer that his mom grabbed his ankle and told him to “call dad.”

The boy described what he said Brand wore: all black with a black mask, according to filings. He said Brand did not say anything to his mom and brother, and he later saw him run out the door.

The case brought scrutiny upon the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, which made the decision to release Brand the day before he allegedly attacked Jayden and his mother.

After serving time in prison for a 2015 attack on another woman, Brand was released from prison in October, according to court records. Months later on Jan. 30, Brand sent Jayden’s mother a text message threatening her and her family, then showed up at her apartment on Feb. 1, according to prosecutors and court records.

He rang the doorbell multiple times and tried to pull the door handle out of the door. The woman contacted the parole board, and he was sent back to prison, according to prosecutors. He was released about six weeks later.

The state’s top parole official and another board member resigned in the wake of the attack, and Gov. J.B. Pritzker created a new executive review board position with a mandate to expand domestic violence training for board members.

In court filings, prosecutors have detailed a significant history of violence against women for Brand, including instances going back nearly two decades of violence against Jayden’s mother.

Brand has racked up multiple convictions for battering her, threatening her and her mother and violating orders of protections, court records show. The two were in a relationship more than 15 years ago.

In 2013, Brand pleaded guilty to charges of domestic battery for punching another woman, who had recently ended a relationship with him, hard enough to knock her unconscious and leave her bleeding from the mouth.

Later, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison in a November 2015 attack on a third woman, who had recently ended a relationship with him, according to court documents. He also threatened her son when he tried to intervene.

Jayden was a passionate dancer with a strong work ethic, friends said after his death.

“He was a well-loved child,” a friend’s mother said. “Always happy, always smiling.”

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