“I’m extremely sorry for what happened,” a North Carolina woman said as her cheeks washed with tears during an initial hearing on a murder charge in the drowning death of her 6-week-old son.
Jameisha Katara Alexander, 24, of Carrboro didn’t say much else to Judge Aaron Butler during the hearing Tuesday afternoon at J. Reuben Long Detention Center, beyond the fact that she couldn’t afford a lawyer. She didn’t mention anything else about the events that occurred Saturday night when a security guard found her infant son face down and unresponsive in a pond at Tanger Outlets near U.S. 501 around 10 p.m. Alexander was found two hours later, after crashing her vehicle in the area of U.S. 501 and Bill Jones Road in Aynor.
Her son, King Khalil Jair Alexander, drowned, according to Horry County Deputy Coroner Michelle McSpadden. The child was from Chapel Hill, N.C., McSpadden said, and police added that Alexander had sole custody of him that night.
A security guard at the shopping center found the infant lying face down in pond water on top of a drainage pipe, according to a police report. The guard went into the water and recovered the infant who was given CPR by Horry County Fire Rescue EMS.
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Paramedics tried to save the infant after his recovery from the pond but weren’t successful. An autopsy later revealed drowning as his cause of death, authorities said.
Horry County police roped off an area as a crime scene and sent out a call to all surrounding agencies to be on the lookout for a woman seen with the baby at the pond, according to a police report. Alexander was nowhere to be found when officers arrived and police say she made no attempts to call anyone for help before officers found her in a crashed car around 11:30 p.m.
The judge told Alexander that due to the nature of her charge, her bond would have to be set by a circuit court judge. Alexander filled out paperwork to prove indigence so that a public defender could be assigned to her case.
Alexander’s family said she was having a rough time, and while joyous, her son’s birth made things tougher.
“She loved that baby with everything she had in her. I think she felt like she just couldn’t do it herself,” Alexander’s mother, Sandra Jones, told The Associated Press by phone from the family’s home in Carrboro.
Alexander had taken maternity leave from her job at McDonald’s to recover from her cesarean section, and was nervous about returning to work, Jones said.
Jones said her daughter was intensely private and proud, pushing away offers to watch the baby or to get her other help. Jones said she discovered only after her daughter’s arrest that Alexander was being seen for depression before and after giving birth.
Alexander hoped her boyfriend of a year-and-a-half would be more supportive after she got pregnant, but instead he moved her to a filthy home 20 miles from her family and went back to doing drugs and abusing her, Jones said.
Alexander’s grandmother was in tears Tuesday, saying her granddaughter just wanted to make everything work.
“All she had to do was talk to me. I always take in whoever needs help. I guess she just felt like nobody cared – when you get to that point,” Melba Jones said, her words dissolving into quiet sobs.
Alexander’s relatives who were at J. Reuben Long Detention Center on Tuesday declined to comment after the hearing.
“We are all still shaken by this tragic event,” Emily Coke, general manager of Tanger Outlets, said via email. “We are following this news with the rest of the community as the authorities release more information, and we are fully cooperating with law enforcement as they continue to investigate.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.