Kenai Whyte

Family handout

The Roxbury woman accused of beating 3-year-old Kenai Whyte to death earlier this year pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder at her arraignment on Wednesday.

Maria Buie, 23, who was already held on charges of assault and battery, pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge that was leveled at her in April in connection to Whyte’s death on Feb. 2, WCVB reported.

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Whyte was found unresponsive in his home on Alpine Street on the night of Jan. 31 and died from his injuries two days later, according to Suffolk District Attorney Jake Wark.


Authorities determined that blunt force trauma led to Whyte’s death, which was ruled a homicide, WCVB added. Investigators claimed that Buie was alone with the child after others had last seen him uninjured.

"She has helped raise him since he was a baby," Buie’s lawyer, Sam Zaganjori, told the Boston Globe. "She has never hurt him and did not commit the acts of which she is accused. She is not guilty and is prepared to fight the charges against her."

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The initial charges of assault and battery against Buie will now be dropped since she was indicted on the murder charge, the Globe added in a separate article.

The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families had an open case regarding Whyte’s family when he died, stated, adding that the district attorney’s office and Gov. Charlie Baker have now called for an investigation into how the department handled the case.