Family, activists, and residents stand outside a courthouse in New Iberia, Louisiana, to show support for an 11-year-old Black girl who is scheduled to be sentenced on April 16 in connection with the killing of a White man. Photo: Rev. Wilfred J. Johnson/A New Chapter Push Coalition

An 11-year-old Black girl in New Iberia, Louisiana, no longer faces first-degree murder and accessory to murder charges after the fact in the shooting of 36-year-old Kameran Bedsole but has been charged with obstruction of justice and faces seven years in jail after she pleaded guilty in open court on March 14.

She has agreed to testify against her 15-year-old brother, who was also charged with first-degree murder. She is still detained in the Lafayette Juvenile Detention Center and her sentencing is scheduled for April 16.

Mr. Bedsole’s body was found on November 14, 2023. The little girl was incarcerated for more than 100 days, despite presiding Judge Roger Hamilton Jr.’s power to release her. Her family, their attorneys, and activists say there is a lack of evidence and have been calling for her release.

On Dec. 5, police arrested her 15-year-old brother and their 40-year-old mother, Sabrina Washington, 40. She is being held in Iberia Parish Jail on $400,000 bond for two counts of accessory after the fact. He is incarcerated in Jackson Parish Juvenile Detention Center still facing the first-degree murder charge.


“(She) doesn’t deserve to be here. She’s just a child. And, she’s strong, though. I’ve been talking to her on the phone and she even wrote me a letter. I answered the letter. I just told her to keep on praying, and we’re with you,” her grandmother Sandra Washington told reporters after a hearing on March 8.

“I believe that she was held in this case as a pawn in order for her brother to turn himself in,” her attorney Ronald Haley told Rodricka Taylor during an interview with KLFY News 10, posted online on Dec. 7. “When we first saw this case kind of came across the desk,” added his co-counsel Ryan Beaulieu, “We immediately knew something wasn’t right.”

“This is the first time I’ve seen an 11-year-old be placed in a position like this, which I think is very unfortunate, but we do believe that she is a victim of circumstance and not a defendant at all,” continued Atty. Haley.

There are still questions about any relationship this girl or her teenage brother would have had with a 36-year-old man.

“It’s shocking to know that an 11-year-old is being held as a suspect for murder. … I haven’t seen in reports yet how she even came to be with or near the very adult man that she is alleged to have shot,” said Student Minister Willie Muhammad of Mosque No. 46 in New Orleans, about two hours away from Iberia Parish.

He added that interactions with the legal system and law enforcement are traumatic for adults, so he can only imagine the mental impact it has on an 11-year-old child.

“Can you imagine the questions she may have and the fears she is dealing with? It can scar her and impact the trajectory of her life if there is no one to advocate for her. This is yet another example of why we as a community must do what the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has been asking us to do, which is to accept the responsibility to reform our community. We have work to do. A lot of work to do,” he said.

The state recommended seven years with three and a half suspended, and the other times to be served on parole or probation. … But they still detained her,” said Rev. Wilfred Johnson, Sr., Senior Pastor of Little Zorah Missionary Baptist Church in New Iberia, Louisiana, and founder of A New Chapter PUSH Community Organization.

“That’s when I spoke out openly because I do believe if it was a White child, they would have released her. They wouldn’t have left her detained at that center. We got partial justice. We need to get full justice, because baby was still there. We left her behind,” Rev. Johnson told The Final Call. “It was her hope to come home. She wanted to come home, and we saw her smiling coming into the courtroom, but we saw her crying going out,” he said.

Judge Hamilton’s ruling aimed to prevent the child from returning to the same environment is understandable, argued Rev. Johnson, yet this should have been pre-arranged before trial on March 8, a fact known to all parties involved. Alternative care options could have been explored to avoid detaining her until a decision is reached, he said.

“That really hurt me and moved all of us,” added Rev. Johnson.

Atty. Haley has requested the girl’s release pending trial but was denied by Judge Hamilton, who also placed a gag order on the case, saying, “This is not a case where we can kick the can down the road. We’re dealing with a child’s life. For her time is of the essence,” according to Anna Fischer, KATC TV 3’s Iberia Parish reporter.

“This is a clear and present sign of America’s justice system, which is a travesty. This little girl is not getting any sense of justice. … No one is protecting this child, …” stated Houston-based attorney Sadiyah Karriem.

“Who are her attorneys? Who is protecting her rights, because how can an 11-year-old accept any type of guilty plea and plead to any type of charge for seven years?! It baffles me,” she said.

She argued that whatever’s happening in Louisiana is only a snapshot of what’s happening in America’s criminal justice system, regardless of the individual’s age, and entry into America’s criminal court essentially means no justice. “That’s why we have to have our own attorneys,” Atty. Karriem said.

“I don’t have to look at the facts of the case or anybody else, to even be an attorney, to see that there’s a travesty of justice happening to this little girl. … This is unethical on so many levels,” she said. “These are children! These are children whose minds are not even fully developed to fully comprehend what’s going on.”

According to Rev. Johnson, who has been in the courtroom watching the case, along with other activists, the girl admitted in court that she witnessed her brother killing Mr. Bedsole by shooting him in the head. “We found that out, but we don’t know how she ended up being charged! This court out here, Iberia Parish Court, the 16th (Judicial District), it’s kangaroo. They do what they want to do, and it’s been like this for a while and we fight and fight, but (nothing),” Rev. Johnson said.

Judge Hamilton said the court’s verdict has to be rendered within 60 days, and if that time lapses, charges against her are dismissed and the child is released, according to Stephen Marcantal, Acadiana Advocate staff writer. Per Louisiana Children’s Code, that 60-day clock starts upon a plea of innocence or guilt.

The Final Call has reached out to the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Atty. Haley’s office, the Iberia Sheriff’s Department, and the Iberia Parish Coroner’s Office for more information, but has not yet received a response. We will provide any update received and continue to investigate this case.

“This child’s case and how this court system has treated her is absolutely outrageous. They went from charging this 11-year-old Black girl with murder, to now charging her with other crimes that could keep her in jail for some seven years,” stated Naba’a Muhammad, editor-in-chief of The Final Call and founder and host of Straight Words radio show which airs on WVON 1690 in Chicago. He and co-hosts, BJ Murphy and James G. Muhammad, The Final Call contributing editor and former editor-in-chief, have covered the case extensively.

“We don’t have any explanations, any motives, any story, nothing. And this girl is supposed to be sentenced in April. We cannot and we should not just let this go. We shouldn’t let it go, and then some years from now be calling for her release. No! We need to fight to stop this right now,” Naba’a Muhammad said.

In addition to fighting for her release, the little girl’s family and community are fighting to ensure that when that time comes, she receives the best of care, has a psychological evaluation and counseling. “Whatever’s necessary to pull her out of that dark room that she’s presently in and hopefully bring her into this marvelous light in which she can see again and she can grow. It hasn’t stopped. We’re still fighting. … And the family is holding on,” said Rev. Johnson.

“I did 20 years in a Louisiana State penitentiary, and I know how hard it was for me to shape back, to regain my sanity in order to be a productive citizen within society. And when I think about an 11-year-old being detained, incarcerated, I can only imagine the impact that it has had upon her psychologically, spiritually and physically” he added.