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Two 13-year-olds repeatedly tossed their

July 30, 1997

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Two 13-year-olds repeatedly tossed their 3-year-old brother into a swimming pool, knowing he couldn’t stay afloat, authorities said as they charged the pair with murder.

``It was a horrifying act,″ Assistant District Attorney Susan Caswell said of the July 6 drowning of little Deangelo Jordan James.

Prosecutors charged Deangelo’s brother, Vernon Leroy James Jr., and their common-law stepbrother, Justin O’Neil Kennedy, with first-degree murder Tuesday.

Witnesses _ including an 11-year-old who unsuccessfully tried to save the boy _ told police the boys repeatedly threw the child into the deep end of the pool at the Williams Square Apartment complex, even though they knew he could not swim, court records show. The pool was closed at the time; the boys had apparently climbed the fence, authorities said.

The child hit his head once on the edge of the concrete pool siding, police were told.

``The victim reportedly sank each time he was thrown into the pool and then began flailing about in the water, attempting to stay afloat,″ Dexter Nelson, Oklahoma City homicide detective, wrote in the affidavit.

Kennedy then drowned the 3-year-old by holding him between his legs, witnesses told police.

The 11-year-old witness told police he swam to Deangelo and pulled him away from Kennedy in an attempt to save him, Nelson wrote.

The boy also told police the teens would not try to resuscitate the child because ``water and a frothy liquid was flowing from the victim’s mouth,″ the affidavit stated.

Deangelo died a few hours later at Children’s Hospital of Oklahoma.

According to the affidavit, Justin claimed he and Vernon were trying to teach the 3-year-old to swim.

If convicted as adults of first-degree murder, the teens could face life without parole. If convicted as juveniles, they could remain in state custody only until age 19.

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