PHOENIX -- The family members of 5-year-old Ian Blair spoke exclusively to 3TV Wednesday, saying there were signs of abuse that went ignored by his mother months before his baby sitter was arrested in connection to his death.
Justin Hoskins, 16, was arrested last week on child abuse charges. Police say Hoskins, who is the son of Ian's mother's boyfriend, was baby-sitting Ian and the boy's younger sisters, when he became angry with Ian and shoved him. Ian fell to the ground and suffered massive brain injuries.
Child Protective Services received at least two complaints in the months leading up to Ian's death that alleged he suffered bruises and black eyes at the hands of Hoskins. The agency was in the process of investigating the reports when Ian died.
Family members say Hoskins is not the only one to blame.
"You can’t leave it up to that kid to be that responsible when he’s not supposed to be at that age," said one of the mother's close relatives, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation and causing more stress in the family.
He claims many of the family members tried talking to Ian's mother about Hoskins and what they described as an unhealthy relationship with his father.
Hoskins' "face in person is so angry," the relative said. "You get this vibe off him that he’s so mad all the time. He’s not a good person."
He said their pleas for her to get the children out of the home went ignored.
Even though Ian's mother is his close family member, he believes she bares part of the responsibility for the boy's death.
"She should’ve ensured that his safety was the No. 1 factor, and she failed to do that," another family member said. "He was just a child, and he deserved better and he didn’t receive it. And the fact that he didn’t receive it from his own mother, that’s disgusting."
The boy's mother has not been charged. Calls and in-person visits to Ian's mother for comment on the case over the past week have been unsuccessful.