SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A 25-year-old Syracuse man was arraigned Monday on a second-degree murder charge after police said he drowned his 3-year-old son in the shower, placed the boy's body in bed and then went to a friend's house.
At a brief court appearance with relatives on both sides of the family and several friends watching, Marcell Washington stared down at the floor as he was ordered to jail without bail.
Police say Washington drowned his son Ameen on Saturday night by holding the child's head and face under a constant stream of cold water in a shower for 10 minutes.
The police account stunned Washington's family.
"He's a positive young man," Washington's aunt, Noretta Flemmings, said outside the courtroom. "Something very bad happened in his mind. It's just so unlike him. It's a loss for everybody. All we can do is pray that God gives us the answers some way."
Washington was charged early Sunday after his sister brought him to the police station. A friend of Washington found the boy's body in a bed in the home Washington rented on the city's tough south side. Police said the friend had taken Washington home after Washington arrived without the boy.
The lawyer assigned to represent Washington, Thomas Ryan, declined to comment Monday because he wasn't in court and hadn't yet seen paperwork in the case.
At a press conference Sunday, Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said investigators did not have a motive for the killing, adding that preliminary results of an autopsy were consistent with what he said Washington told investigators.
"This is just sick," Fowler said. "He took his baby into the shower and drowned his own baby, this 3-year-old precious baby."
Fowler said it did not appear that Washington was using drugs at the time of the killing and there was no evidence of a dispute with the child's mother. Fowler also said the parents shared custody of the boy, and there were no previous reports of abuse.
On Monday, the caution tape that had cordoned off the front of the bright yellow home was gone and a small plastic basketball net for kids lay toppled on its side in the driveway. The home sits on a hill above one of the city's most crime-ridden areas.
Relatives and friends said Washington was a devout Muslim who worked several jobs to help support his son and was sharing the home with two other men.
Washington's sister, Iris, said another sister, Kahmilah Archer, was shot and killed by her boyfriend almost seven years ago to the day that Ameen died.
"We have to feel that pain again," Iris Washington, who fears her brother suffers from mental illness, told The Post-Standard of Syracuse.