RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A Richmond family says the death of an 8-year-old, killed trying to defend his sister from a rapist, could have been prevented.
The family says the suspect in the attack on Marty Cobb also attacked their child four years ago and was supposed to have mental health treatment.
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Mairese Washington, then 12-years-old, was charged with malicious wounding after bludgeoning a 3-year-old boy with a hammer in 2010, according to court records.
The child survived and his family says they're stunned the suspect was able to hurt another little boy.
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"It brings chills to my spine. It makes the hairs on the back of my neck standup," said the boy's mother, Heather Arrington. "It's just something you don't want to go through."
Upon hearing what happened to Marty on Thursday night, Arrington was brought immediately back in time. Her family will never forget that night in September 2010 when Malchi was found bloodied on Accommodation Street in Richmond.
After almost 100 staples, a metal plate in his head and four years or recovery, Malchi's pain is still real.
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"I felt like the public needed to know that this young man was a danger," Malchi's aunt, Santa Quivers. "I definitely feel like this is where the system has failed us again."
A letter from the prosecutor explains Mairese Washington was supposed to receive mental health treatment, including medications and counseling, and after it was complete be placed on probation.
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Sources confirm Washington, the same person in Malchi's case, is the suspect in Marty's murder. Malchi's family says detectives have talked to them and apologized, because they were supposed to be notified when he was released, but that never happened.
"I definitely feel like this is where the system has failed us again," said Quivers.
Now they say police have assured them they're working hard to make sure this young man does not hurt anyone again.
NBC12 reached out by email and phone to the suspect's lawyers, but have not heard back from either one of them. We also stopped by the 16-year-old's house to speak with his family but were asked to leave. Prosecutors had no comment on Washington's past.
Family members and friends say Marty was trying to stop Washington from sexually assaulting his sister in the 200 block of Brandon Road last week when he was killed.
According to an aunt of the two children, the siblings were playing in their backyard, near train tracks at the time of the attack. The suspect beat the boy to death. His sister is recovering in the hospital.
The 16-year-old remains in the juvenile detention center. His next scheduled hearing is May 20.