Updated 02/25/2013 08:32 PM
Woman charged in death of eight-year-old grandson
A grandmother has been charged with manslaughter in the death of her grandson after police say she beat the eight-year-old to death. Megan Cruz has more.
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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- "She was a good mother and good grandmother. I'm really, truly, just shocked. It's not Gloria, it's not Gloria," said Gaston Hooks Jr.
Gaston Hooks Jr. defending his neighbor of 30 years, Gloria Nelligan. Police accuse the 43-year-old of beating her eight-year-old grandson, Sha'hiim, to death. The boy lived with Nelligan and her three daughters at a home in Schenectady.
Nelligan left Schenectady City Court after her arraignment Monday morning. She's been charged with first degree manslaughter.
"Something transpired on Friday which resulted in her using what would be considered excessive corporal punishment which directly led to his death," said Schenectady Police Department Spokesperson Lt. Mark McCracken.
McCracken wouldn't say why or how Nelligan was punishing Sha'hiim, just that it lasted from Friday night into Saturday morning. He says the boy was seen alive Saturday, but that police were called to Nelligan's home around 10 a.m. after family found Sha'hiim unresponsive.
A memorial for Sha'hiim now sits outside of the home. Hooks says while he's heard verbal arguments between Nelligan and the kids at the home before, as far as physical abuse, he said that's never happened.
Hooke said, "She doesn't beat her kids."
"That's unknown at this time. It'll also be part of the investigation," McCracken said.
But so far, McCracken says in the last year-and-a-half, there's been no complaints of physical abuse at the home.
"She's a loving and caring mom. She'll do anything for her children! She has parties for them. Always bringing them to church functions, they go to church twice a week," Hooke said.
Nelligan will stay at the county jail till her next court appearance March 1st. Her daughters, all under the age of 13, have since been placed with other family members.
Workers at the Quest after school program were shocked by the news of Nelligan's death. He went there after school each day.
"I'm not usually at a loss for words. I am now because it’s not just a tragedy for him, it’s a tragedy for everyone in his family. And there are no words for that," said Judy Atchinson, Executive Director and Founder of X-Quest Inc.
Atchinson plans to offer the site as a place for a memorial and celebration of Nelligan's life at a later date.