BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — When Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney’s remains were found in a dumpster at an Alabama landfill Oct. 22, the DNA of the man accused of killing the 3-year-old was found under her fingernails, according to court testimony last week.
That man, Patrick Devone Stallworth, had scratches on his chest while in police custody in the days following the toddler’s Oct. 12 abduction from outside a birthday party at Birmingham’s Tom Brown Village public housing complex, investigators said.
Cupcake’s DNA, along with that of Stallworth and his girlfriend, Derick Iresha Brown, was found on a bloodstained plastic cover taken from a mattress in the couple’s home at the Woodside Condominiums in Center Point, AL.com reported.
Those details, and many more, were revealed Friday as Brown, 29, appeared in court for a preliminary hearing in Cupcake’s kidnapping and suffocation death, which left the Birmingham community on edge for more than a week as local, state and federal law enforcement officials scoured the city for the girl.
The community also mourned en masse with the toddler’s family when her body was found.
Like Stallworth, 39, Brown is charged with capital murder in Cupcake’s death, among other charges.
Stallworth is charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography and possession with the intent to disseminate child pornography. The images, found on his cellphone during the search for Cupcake, were not of the missing girl, AL.com reported.
Stallworth was initially allowed to post bail on the child porn charges but was rearrested when Cupcake’s body was found.
Brown is additionally charged with felony attempting to elude officers and second-degree assault, Jefferson County Jail records show. Those charges stem from a July 2018 incident in which police allege Brown kidnapped her own three children at gunpoint after they were taken from her custody and placed with a relative.
AL.com reported that Brown was under investigation on suspicion of abuse after she was accused of placing the children inside a clothes dryer as punishment.
Both Brown and Stallworth face the possibility of the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in Cupcake’s slaying.
Editor’s note: The following details of Kamille McKinney’s death are graphic and may be difficult for some readers.
WBRC in Birmingham reported that a Birmingham police detective testified at Brown’s hearing that after repeatedly denying involvement in Cupcake’s disappearance, Brown eventually told investigators she and Stallworth were at their home at the Woodside Condominiums in Center Point the night of Oct. 12 when she went outside to smoke, then took a pill and fell asleep.
When she awoke, Brown alleged she found Stallworth sexually abusing the toddler. According to AL.com, Brown said Stallworth forced Cupcake to perform oral sex on him.
It was eventually Brown who told authorities where the girl’s remains could be found.
The news site offered a detailed outline of the testimony at Brown’s court hearing, as well as details from Stallworth’s preliminary hearing earlier in the week. AL.com reported that the combined testimony indicates the pair have each claimed innocence and blamed one another for Cupcake’s death.
A brazen abduction
The toddler was playing outside with another child around 7:25 p.m. Oct. 12 when footage from a nearby security camera recorded a man approach the children. He appeared to speak to them for a moment before walking off down the street, the children following along behind him.
That was the last moment Cupcake was seen alive.
Stallworth and Brown were taken into custody in connection with the girl’s disappearance the following day after police released images of a person of interest, as well as photos of a blue Toyota Sequoia, taken from a nearby Shell gas station and convenience store.
Authorities said tipsters who saw the images identified the man in the photos as Stallworth.
An SUV matching the one in the photos was seized from the parking lot of the couple’s condominium complex, according to police. It belongs to Brown, AL.com reported.
In chilling testimony at Stallworth’s Dec. 10 preliminary hearing, Birmingham police Detective Jonathan Ross told the court that surveillance footage from the Shell gas station showed Stallworth buy $18.91 worth of candy more than seven hours before Cupcake’s abduction.
Five minutes later, two preteen girls were leaving their Saturday cheerleading practice at Haynes K-8 School when they were approached by the blue Sequoia.
“I’m looking for a girl that looks like you,” a man later identified by police as Stallworth told one girl.
The girl is 11 years old, AL.com reported.
Stallworth offered the girls candy, but they grew nervous, Ross testified. The second girl said, “Let’s go,” and they walked away.
The detective testified that security footage from the school backs up the girls’ statements, though the camera was not close enough for police to identify the occupants of the SUV.
The girls’ description of the woman with Stallworth matches that of Brown.
Children at Tom Brown Village later told investigators that a man in an SUV was handing out candy around the housing development that evening. At least one child witnessed Cupcake’s abduction.
“She was crying,” a 10-year-old boy told police, according to Ross.
It was the statements from the young cheerleaders that led investigators to canvass the neighborhood around Tom Brown Village, leading them to find footage at the Shell of Stallworth and the blue SUV the children described, the detective said.
Footage from a Chevron gas station the night of Cupcake’s abduction indicated that at some point after the couple went home with the toddler, Stallworth went back out and bought an energy drink and a pill for “sexual dysfunction,” Ross said Dec. 10, according to AL.com.
Ross testified Friday that Brown, who was interviewed by investigators three times, at first denied any knowledge of Cupcake’s abduction or death, the news site reported. Following her Oct. 13 arrest, Brown remained jailed in connection with the kidnapping allegations from 2018.
On Oct. 21, the day before Cupcake’s body was found, Brown reportedly sent word to detectives that she wanted to talk.
According to Ross, Brown said that despite being with Stallworth at Tom Brown Village on Oct. 12, she did not know he had taken the toddler until they stopped at a convenience store. It was not clear Friday how Brown said she learned the girl was in her SUV.
Surveillance footage from the Jet Pep where the couple stopped showed a seemingly unfazed Brown go inside to pay for gas and buy a soda, the detective said.
“She seemed fine to me,” Ross testified about the footage, AL.com reported. “She’s walking fine. Seemed normal.”
Brown told detectives she and Stallworth went home after the stop at the store. It is at that point that her story diverges from the one given to police by Stallworth.
‘That’s not your child’
ABC 33/40 in Birmingham reported that testimony from Stallworth’s Dec. 10 hearing indicated he told police he was not aware of Cupcake’s presence until he walked into his and Brown’s condo that night and saw Brown sitting on the sofa with the girl.
“That’s not your child,” Stallworth said he told her.
“I want to keep her,” Brown replied, according to Stallworth.
Stallworth told police Brown suggested he “do something sexual to the child,” Ross testified, AL.com reported. Stallworth said he refused and went outside to smoke a cigarette.
Later, “Brown put her hands over Cupcake’s nose and mouth,” Stallworth told investigators. He said the girl was then “asleep,” according to the news site.
Ross testified that Stallworth told him Brown gave the girl a bath at some point after removing her clothes and hair bows. He told the detective when he awoke the next morning, Brown was with him in bed.
It was unclear where Cupcake was at that point in Stallworth’s story.
Brown told police, however, that she was the one who went outside to smoke when they got home the night of the abduction, AL.com reported. She said she went back inside and into the bathroom, where she found Stallworth.
She alleged that she saw a “shadow” pass by the door and “thought she was tripping,” Ross testified.
Brown told investigators she had used trazadone, a sedative, that day, as well as methamphetamine.
According to authorities, an autopsy showed toxic levels of both drugs present in Cupcake’s body. Ross testified that the trazadone prescription from which the drugs allegedly came was Stallworth’s.
AL.com reported that Brown told investigators she went to bed and fell asleep but awoke at some point during the night to find Cupcake sitting on the sofa. She said Stallworth was kneeling in front of the girl, forcing her to perform oral sex.
Ross became emotional as he testified about the sexual abuse, ABC 33/40 reported. The judge gave the veteran detective a few moments to compose himself, and time for anyone in the courtroom who wished to leave to do so.
Cupcake’s parents were in the courtroom for the duration of the hearing, the news station reported.
Brown told detectives she went back to sleep and awoke the following day. When she asked about Cupcake, Stallworth told her, “You have been tripping,” she told detectives.
Stallworth left the condo with a trash bag after asking her about their canister of lighter fluid, Brown told investigators. She said she told him they’d left it behind at their previous apartment.
“Her boyfriend put the baby in a trash bin with old furniture,” Ross testified.
Brown said Cupcake was disposed of in a dumpster at an adjacent apartment complex, AL.com said.
Stallworth’s defense team argued at his hearing that DNA swabs of the girl’s body found no signs of sexual assault. According to AL.com, prosecutors countered that the condition of her remains at the time of her autopsy made it hard to determine what, if any, sexual abuse had taken place.
An Amber Alert
Ross also testified Friday about evidence gathered beyond the suspects’ statements to police. Cellphone records for Stallworth’s phone showed a flurry of seven calls to his mother after 10:39 p.m., when an Amber Alert was issued for Cupcake, the news site reported.
The records also showed “a lot of movement” between the couple’s condo and the adjacent Parkway Villa apartments, which are accessible to one another via a pathway through a wooded area.
It was a construction dumpster from the largely vacant Parkway Villa in which Cupcake’s remains were found by FBI agents Oct. 22.
In addition to the cellphone evidence, Ross testified last week about two inmates in the Jefferson County Jail who have come forward claiming that Stallworth admitted he accidentally killed Cupcake, AL.com reported.
According to the news site, Brown’s public defender argued Friday that his client was innocent of the capital murder charge. He argued that the allegations against Brown aligned better with the lesser charge of felony murder.
“We’re not here to talk about whether Ms. Brown is a good person,” said her attorney, Adam Danneman, according to AL.com. “That would be a very short conversation.”
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Clyde Jones disagreed.
“It’s clear to me one or both of them sexually abused this child,” then killed her, Jones told the attorney. “This woman (Brown) did not come forward. She could have easily went to law enforcement.”
Jones said the evidence indicated Brown was “acting in concert” with Stallworth and said there was plenty to warrant the case being sent to a grand jury.
Stallworth’s case was also forwarded to the grand jury. He and Brown remain in the Jefferson County Jail, where they are being held without bail.