Too Dumb to Die

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Kevin was alone early in life. When the boy was 6 years old, Bernice died from complications of chronic alcoholism. He then lived with his father and one of his mother's brothers, a man the family called "Baby James." But that arrangement didn't last. When Kevin was only 10 years old, Joe Moore was charged with murdering 17-year-old Londrick Mauney.

On May 30, 1988, Joe Moore and an accomplice were cruising around North Broward in a white Pontiac with a vinyl top. They were hoping to score a kilo of cocaine. When the Pontiac pulled up near a graveyard in Pompano Beach, their purported cocaine supplier got in the back seat. It was Mauney. But instead of reaching for drugs, Mauney pulled a gun. "Give up the money," he ordered. Jumping into the back seat, Moore struggled with Mauney for control of the weapon until finally gunshots cut through the balmy night air, bullets piercing Mauney's body. Kevin's father later surrendered and pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, which resulted in a seven-year state prison sentence.

Kevin's grandmother, Hazel, took care of the boy. In 1989, she brought him to a psychologist who worked for Broward County Psychological Services. The boy's teachers had recommended that he be examined. In Kevin, psychologist Harvey J. Broman found a deeply troubled kid. In addition to having an IQ of 55, the boy suffered from frequent nightmares and was obsessed with masturbation, Broman found.

Kevin was picked on mercilessly in school, recalled Tremaine Robinson, Kevin's younger half-brother. In a deposition, Tremaine acknowledged that he made fun of Kevin until he learned in elementary school that they were related. "[The kids] picked on him a lot," Tremaine said. "At first, I didn't even know he was my brother until my auntie -- she had told me... I was one of [Joe Moore's] kids too... Until she told me, I used to pick on him a lot. And I was like defending him when I know him [as my half-brother]."

Indeed, Kevin was an easy target for cruel kids. He was cross-eyed, his clothing was mismatched, and he carried a girl's bag -- a pink My Little Pony backpack. "He just looked like a cartoon," Tremaine said. "It was a funny look. You know, he's not all there."

Kevin is a poor historian. He's been unable to give his attorneys a personal time line or even something as simple as the year or the school grade he was in when events occurred. His family is equally challenged to recall things about him. "They don't even have pictures of him as a child," says Dorothy Ferraro, one of the public defenders appointed to Kevin's case. One thing known is that, when Kevin ran away as a teenager, his grandmother and Uncle James never looked for him. In fact, they apparently never even reported the mentally disabled boy missing.

That's something that has stuck in Priscilla Robinson's mind for the past decade. When Kevin was 15 years old, she remembered in a deposition, neither she nor Tremaine had seen him for quite some time when, one afternoon, she walked over to the boy's house. Hazel and Uncle James were in the front yard.

They said Kevin was gone. He had run away.

"Nobody bothered to look for him?" Priscilla recalled asking.

Hazel and James dismissed the question. "They were like that, just like [indicating], just waved their hands," Priscilla explained. "And it just hurt me that a parent and grandmother and all could even feel this way about their own blood."

Months later, Kevin returned, and unnamed family members told Tremaine that the teenager had been exploited. "Some guy had him on drugs, and he was using him as like a boy toy," Tremaine explained. "And I know the family never really took him in. So it was like Kevin ain't -- he ain't all together as a person, you know. So it was like the family, like I said, they don't never help him out or anything. So pretty much everything that he got, he had to go out and get on his own."

Kevin told a court-appointed psychologist that he had been sexually assaulted "by some guy I was living with." He had also contracted HIV. In 1997, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and drug paraphernalia. He received 18 months of community supervision. Kevin admits to being sexually promiscuous despite his HIV-positive status and says he first tried crack cocaine at 18 and began to experiment with ecstasy in his early 20s -- two of the few life events he seems able to pinpoint.

By the time Kevin was 23 years old, drug use was a daily activity. "This young man has -- he has a bad... a very sad, sad life," Priscilla Robinson said. "I believe if his mother probably would have survived, it might have been a little better for him because he didn't have anyone to give him love, to show him, you know, what it means to love and to care... He was like a thrown-away child or something, tossed out there to the wind or whatever comes about just comes about."

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Trevor Aaronson
Contact: Trevor Aaronson