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Death of Lebrawn Rankin: Mobile District Attorney responds

(WPMI) Death of Lebrawn Rankin: Mobile District Attorney responds
(WPMI){ }Death of Lebrawn Rankin: Mobile District Attorney responds

The Mobile County District Attorney's Office is investigating the death of 8-year-old Lebrawn Rankin.

Lebrawn weighed just 23 pounds when he died two years ago, according the medical examiner.

The district attorney's office says the medical nature of the case has made it difficult, but they're dedicated to bringing Lebrawn justice.

"This case is very disturbing," said Mobile D.A. Ashley Rich.

The veteran prosecutor has tackled some tough cases, but Lebrawn is one that sticks with her.

"When you are dealing with a child that suffered in the level of suffering this child suffered it is very, very difficult," she said.

When detectives discovered Lebrawn dead on a mattress with no sheets and box spring in April of 2018, they noted "that [Lebrawn's] ribs were showing," also writing, "the juvenile had visible sores on his body and face."

The EMTs who transported Lebrawn's body wrote he was "extremely emaciated with all bony points clearly visible."

Rich said the hospital notified her office about Lebrawn's condition.

"When you have trained medical professionals who become just completely shocked at something, a case they see in the hospital, and they turn it over to law enforcement, we take that very seriously," said Rich.

An autopsy report showed Lebrawn weighed just 23 pounds when he died April 6, 2018.

Lebrawn's hospital records from 2010 show he weighed 15 pounds when he was a 7-month-old baby.

He only weighed 8 more pounds, when he died.

The medical examiner determined Lebrawn died from cerebral palsy with malnutrition and dehydration.

His manner of death is not listed as natural or a homicide on the autopsy report. Instead, it is listed as undetermined with the possibility of neglect.

"We owe it to the community, and we owe it to the child, to make sure this case is thoroughly investigated and bring criminal charges if that is what's warranted," said Rich.

Mobile police officers who investigated Lebrawn’s death wrote he appeared very malnourished, that his diaper looked like it hadn’t been changed in some time, and that the apartment was in poor living condition.

"Why weren't criminal charges filed in the case?" asked NBC 15's Rachael Wilkerson.

"Sometimes there is immediate evidence that you can say without a doubt, 'we need to be charging somebody.' And in this particular case, I am not a medical doctor," said MPD Chief Lawrence Battiste.

"You know I have to be very guarded in what I say at this point, but I think the facts will come out," said Rich.

Staff members at Augusta Evans, Lebrawn's Public Special Education School, told police they complained to the Department of Human Resources several times about Lebrawn's condition.

In early February of 2018, one report was made about "Lebrawn's skin break down that was present and the loss of weight."

Another employee told police they made "a report to DHR because [they] believed he was not getting the proper care at home."

DHR investigators did go to Lebrawn's home 11 days before he died, but did not find evidence of neglect. To this day, Lebrawn's death is still under investigation.

"Why is this so important to fight for this kid? For so long so many people reached out for help and help never showed up," questioned NBC 15's Rachael Wilkerson.

"You know, we are trying to make that help come now. And we are very fortunate here in Mobile to have so many educators who do care and do take the responsibility to report any types of abuse or issues that they see. In this case, that is exactly what these teachers did for him. Unfortunately, it just came too late," said Rich.

Chief Battiste echoes that message, but hopes comfort can soon be provided to those mourning and those who tried to be a voice when Lebrawn was voiceless.

"Sometimes we just get there too late. We find out what we need to find out too late. So, in this case, Lebrawn lost his life and it would be my prayer that there would be closure for the people that tried to engage in help in some way. Ultimately, Lebrawn's mother, if there is neglect on her part, she will have to live with this for the rest of her life," said Chief Battiste.

There is an active civil lawsuit filed by an attorney for Lebrawn's estate accusing his mother and DHR of negligence in Lebrawn's death.

Lebrawn's mother told NBC 15 News over the phone she didn't do anything wrong and that she just wants her son to rest.

Those who were close to Lebrawn at his school say they purchased his headstone.

We'll show you that Monday at 5 p.m.