State: Overtown teens admitted to shooting of 10-year-old boy

Ernest Rowell, 18, and Khalib Newkirk, 15, two teenagers police say are gang members they believe shot 10-year-old Marlon Eason in Overtown in March, are shown in a photo posted on Facebook.
Ernest Rowell, 18, and Khalib Newkirk, 15, two teenagers police say are gang members they believe shot 10-year-old Marlon Eason in Overtown in March, are shown in a photo posted on Facebook. Miami

Confronted by an angry relative of 10-year-old Marlon Eason, two Miami teenagers who police say are gang members apologetically admitted their bullets killed the boy “by accident,” according to court documents.

Arrest warrants released on Monday detail the investigation that led to Friday night’s arrests of Ernest “K-Hound” Rowell, 18, and Khalib “Woo” Newkirk, 15, on charges of killing the boy in March.

The boy was shot to death on an Overtown street as he played basketball, hit by bullets fired at a passing car. The slaying outraged community leaders and law enforcement officials, who detailed the arrest at a press conference at Overtown’s Saint Agnes Episcopal Church.

“A child should be able to play in front of his home without fear,” Miami Police Chief Rodolfo Llanes said as rain pelted a covered walkway at the church just a couple blocks from where the boy was killed.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said prosecutors will charge both suspects as adults. The counts: murder.

“An innocent 10-year-old little boy playing in a yard with a basketball was caught in the crossfire,” said Fernandez Rundle, who praised witnesses who helped police get “terrorists off the street.”

Because of the fear of retaliation, securing witnesses is often tough in urban shootings involving gangs. But in Marlon’s case, the warrants reveal, Miami homicide detectives got unusual cooperation.

Investigators believe Newkirk and Rowell were part of a group known as the “Gary Gang,” named after a Miami man shot dead in 2012. The two even detailed their gang activities on Facebook, police said.

On March 24, one of their cohorts, Richard Hallman, 16, was fatally shot during a firefight with rivals in Allapattah. Investigators believe his 9 mm pistol was whisked away and later given to Newkirk and Rowell.

In the 1900 block of Northwest Fourth Court, less than two hours later, Newkirk and Rowell thought they saw the gang rivals in a car driving by, according to the warrant. They opened fire and bullets struck Marlon as he played outside.

About three weeks later, police arrested Newkirk and Rowell for trespassing in Overtown. According to the warrant, Newkirk hurled the 9 mm pistol onto the roof of a home. Lab tests showed the gun matched bullet casings found at both murder scenes.

The boy’s relative, who was not identified, heard from people in the neighborhood that Newkirk and Rowell were the shooters, according to court records.

When confronted, police say the teens admitted to the shooting. “They also tried to justify their actions by saying that they had shot Marlon Eason by accident and being apologetic,” Miami Detective Frankie Sanchez wrote in the warrant.

The account given to the slain boy’s relative — police believe the teens fired from 93 yards away — squared with evidence found at the scene, according to a warrant prepared by Sanchez and prosecutor Santiago Aroca.

Newkirk and Rowell said that after the shooting, they ran through an apartment complex known as the “Rainbow Projects.” Another witness told detectives that he saw Rowell and Newkirk running through the complex, “removing their jackets, wrapping what appeared to be firearms and handing them to an unknown person through a fence.”

Miami detectives believe Rowell, 66 days after the boy’s killing, was shot at by rival gang members in the same area. He never reported the attack, and soon took off to Arkansas.

A task force arrested him Friday night after he returned to Miami on a Greyhound bus. Newkirk was arrested at his Overtown home.

“It's not just a child who lost his life,” Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon, who represents the district, said at Monday’s press conference, “but two other children who lost their future."

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