A small shrine was erected in a Fairfield driveway to the 4-year-old boy who drowned in a bathtub, as his grandmother was charged Thursday with murder and child abuse in connection with his death.
A painted portrait of Jesus, teddy bears, candles and flowers stood near the doorstep in the 1400 block of Jefferson Street, paying tribute to Richard Kite, identified by Fairfield police as the little boy who drowned on Tuesday morning inside the home. Efforts to speak to the boy's family were unsuccessful.
Nick Gainey, who doesn't know the family, was one of many who stopped by the house to leave something in honor of the young boy. "It's hard to determine what would motivate a person to hurt a child."
Police say Richard's grandmother, Dawn Diana Raines-Hewes, 51, "intentionally drowned" him and then "admitted to the intentional act." Still, police have not revealed specifically what she allegedly said.
Raines-Hewes appeared in Solano County Superior Court Thursday afternoon and did not enter a plea during her arraignment on murder and child abuse charges that carry a maximum penalty of 25 years to life in prison.
She wore a chain around her waist and a thick green suit, which authorities said were to prevent her from harming herself. The county public defender's office was appointed to represent Raines-Hewes and her arraignment will be completed on Jan. 7, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Daugherty said. Daughtery added that Raines-Hewes' "mental health" will certainly be looked at as part of the case.
A request to interview Raines-Hewes was denied in Solano County Jail, where she is being held on a "safety hold" and denied bail. However, two of her former relatives by marriage told NBC Bay Area that they know Raines-Hewes to be a loving caring woman who was always kind to them and her own daughters and grandchildren.
Still, neighbors told NBC Bay Area that Raines-Hewes had acted oddly, stressed out and asking to borrow phones to call her boyfriend, about 20 minutes before police arrived to find the boy unconscious in the hallway.
The 4-year-old's death is the second this month of a young child in Fairfield dying, and a caretaker being charged with murder. Eighteen-month-old Thor Wayne Thompson died Dec. 18 in Fairfield at the home of his babysitter on the Travis Air Force Base. The sitter, Gina Nicole Bailey, was arrested in connection with his death on Dec. 22 after police said she violently shook him causing severe brain injury.
Bailey told NBC Bay Area affiliate KCRA that she didn't do it, and never shook the baby.