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Betty Shabazz’s troubled grandson could face murder charge

June 24, 1997

NEW YORK (AP) _ The troubled grandson who bears Malcolm X’s name could be charged with murder now that his grandmother, Betty Shabazz, has died of burns he allegedly caused.

But even if 12-year-old Malcolm Shabazz were charged and convicted of homicide, he would spend no more than 18 months in custody under juvenile law.

Specific charges against the boy have never been made public, but Mrs. Shabazz’s death Monday means prosecutors could upgrade them to include murder. There was no word Tuesday on any decision about charges.

Mrs. Shabazz, who had carried on her husband’s civil rights causes after witnessing his murder in 1965, died Monday of burns suffered in the fire June 1.

News organizations have petitioned to open the Family Court case to reporters. A hearing was being held Tuesday afternoon.

Malcolm had been sent to live with his grandmother about three weeks before he allegedly set fire to her suburban Yonkers home. He reportedly wanted to be sent back to his mother, Qubilah.

Qubilah and Malcolm Shabazz had lived together in Texas for several stormy months marked by his long absences from school and calls to the police over fights between mother and son.

Qubilah Shabazz broke the news of her mother’s death to Malcolm on Monday night at the jail where he is being held.

Update hourly