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Idaho 3-year-old stabbed at her birthday party dies

Updated July 2, 2018 - 5:22 pm

BOISE, Idaho — A 3-year-old Idaho girl who was stabbed at her own birthday party died Monday, two days after a man invaded the celebration and attacked nine people with a knife, authorities said.

Timmy Kinner is accused of stabbing a group of children and the adults who tried to protect them at the party at an apartment complex that is home to many refugee families.

Word of the child’s death came at Kinner’s first court appearance, where Ada County Magistrate Judge Russell Comstock told him that he was charged with first-degree murder and other felonies in connection with the Saturday night attack.

Comstock told Kinner he was “an extreme danger to the community” and ordered him held without bond.

Kinner is American, and the victims are members of refugee families from Syria, Iraq and Ethiopia. Boise Police Chief William Bones said the evidence does not suggest the attack was a hate crime.

The suspect had recently stayed at the apartment complex but was asked to leave Friday over bad behavior, Bones said.

The 30-year-old appeared in court through closed-circuit video, a common practice for first appearances in Idaho. Wearing a tattered off-white sweatshirt with his arms shackled to his waist, Kinner told the judge he didn’t understand the charges or proceedings. He also said he wanted to represent himself.

The judge ordered that he be appointed a public defender anyway.

“I can’t explain the charges any more clearly than I just did,” he told Kinner.

Three of the stabbing victims were adults, the others children: the 3-year-old girl who died, two 4-year-olds, a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old and a 12-year-old.

If convicted, Kinner could be eligible for execution under Idaho law. Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts said her office has not yet decided whether to seek the death penalty, saying those “high-level decisions” are made only after all the facts are in.

No evidence of hate crime

“We have no specific evidence at this time to believe it was a hate crime,” Bones told reporters at a press conference Sunday, saying the victims may have simply been targeted because of where they were located on the property. Still, Bones said, the motive remains under investigation.

Esrom Habte, 12, and Fathi Mahamoud, 11, were playing in the grass behind their apartment when the attack began. They ran for safety when they saw the suspect chasing people.

“We saw a killer and didn’t want to get stabbed,” Esrom said. “We saw him saying, like, bad words and stabbing a kid and a grown-up really hard and a lot of times.”

The two ran into an apartment and hid in a closet with Esrom’s two sisters and another child, and stayed inside until police told them it was safe to come out.

“I saw the police cleaning stuff, and then I came outside,” Fathi said. He said the stabbing victims are his friends. The victims include members of three refugee families from Iraq, Ethiopia and Syria.

The attack resulted in the most victims in a single incident in Boise Police Department history, the chief said.

“The crime scene, the faces of the parents struggling, the tears coming down their faces, the faces of the children in their hospital beds will be something that I carry with me for the rest of my life, as will every first responder that night,” he said.

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