July 24, 2012

1-year-old Wichita boy dies after being found in backyard pool

The large house near the curve on Coe Drive is a magnet for the children in the neighborhood because of its backyard pool.

The large house near the curve on Coe Drive is a magnet for the children in the neighborhood because of its backyard pool.

On Tuesday morning, the house near 13th and Edgemoor in east Wichita was the scene of tragedy as a 1-year-old boy who lives there drowned in that pool. Police say the boy was found alone in the water at about 11:15 a.m. by a woman identified by relatives as his mother.

The child, identified by his stepgrandmother as Marcino Hall, was taken to Wesley Medical Center, where he died. Capt. Brent Allred said there were seven people in the house at the time of the incident — all but one of them minors.

Crime-scene tape cordoned off the front yard of the house. Neighbors and relatives stood in the shade across the street, staring at the house in disbelief.

Allred said the children were being kept in the house while detectives talked to them about what happened. Every now and then, small children — including Marcino’s 2-year-old brother, Maurice Jr. — would lift a corner of the venetian blinds and peek out a living room window at the crowd gathered outside.

That crowd included a team from the Exploited and Missing Child Unit, a Crime Scene Investigation unit and the head of the homicide unit.

“My kids are over here all the time,” said a woman who would only give her first name, Savannah, as she stood in the shade across the street. “I feel safe just dropping them off and leaving them here. There’s an adult here watching them all the time.”

Lisa Cardona, Marcino’s stepgrandmother, said the two little brothers were inseparable. Knowing how they were, she said, she suspects Maurice got up, unlocked the door out to the pool, and his little brother followed.

Allred, however, said Marcino was the only one in the water when he was found.

Both boys learned to swim almost before they could walk, Cardona said, and they both loved the water.

“Maurice just loved him,” she said. “He would try to change his diaper, he would feed him.”

The boys’ mother, Keshawn Sutherland, just graduated from Southeast High this spring, Cardona said, and was devoted to her boys.

“She took them everywhere with her,” Cardona said.

She said Sutherland often worked late shifts at McDonald’s, however, so it was not unusual for them to sleep until noon. They lived at the house with Sutherland’s stepfather, who had raised her since she was a child, Cardona said.

She sacrificed a lot to make sure her children were taken care of, Cardona said of Sutherland — even walking to the Women, Infants and Children office to collect food for her family.

“I still can’t believe it,” Cardona said as she watched the law enforcement officials work across the street. “It hasn’t sunk in yet.”

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