PHOENIX -- The mother of Justin Hoskins, the 16-year-old baby sitter accused of killing a 5-year-old boy, says she believes the death was an accident caused by a teen who suffered years of abuse himself.
Police say Hoskins was left in charge of 5-year-old Ian, his 3-year-old sister and a 4-month-old sister last month when he grew angry with the boy and shoved him.
Ian suffered severe brain and head injuries and was pronounced dead at Phoenix Children's Hospital. Police say Hoskins tried to cover up the crime, placed the boy in the bed and did not tell anyone what he did.
Ian's mother discovered him hours later, covered in vomit and unconscious. Shanda, who asked us not to use her new last name, says she believes her son was too afraid to speak up.
"Why didn't he say anything after it happened?" Shanda asked. "Was he scared? Was he scared he was going to get abused again?"
Shanda says Hoskins was abused by his father for years. Behavior, she says, she witnessed while she was married to him and after. She also points to orders of protection issued by judges over the years, banning Hoskins' father from having contact with other alleged victims.
While Shanda believes her son did not mean to kill Ian, she thinks he was modeling behavior he'd witnessed and been subjected to since he was small. "You learn from nature and nurture," Shanda says. "If you're being abused, if you're being hit your entire life, of course that's going to reflect on how you act."
3TV could not find any criminal history or convictions of domestic violence or abuse against Hoskins' father. Records show Hoskins' father had full custody of the teen at the time of the incident.
Shanda says she has tried fighting for custody but failed. "It was very hard knowing that I wasn't part of his life and that others were taking care of him and hopefully doing the right thing for him," Shanda says, wiping away tears. "It was real hard not being there, not knowing what was going on."
Records show CPS had an active investigation into Hoskins for alleged violence against Ian in the past. He was accused of causing bruises and black eyes on the 5-year-old. According to CPS documents, Ian's mother said the boy suffered the injuries from falling off the bunk bed.
Shanda says someone in the home should have gotten her son help or allowed her to step in a long time ago. "If I had been in his life and allowed to be a nurturing caring mother, this might not have happened," Shanda says. Shanda admits her son needs help, but she believes many of the adults in his life "failed him."
When reached by phone late Tuesday night, Hoskins' father said, "I've lost two sons," referencing Ian and Hoskins, but refused a request for an interview or a response to Shanda's accusations. Ian's funeral will be held on Wednesday.