Detroit father speaks out as man is charged with murder in his daughter Justice Starks' death

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Posted at 9:41 PM, Mar 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-08 23:11:58-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A Detroit man is behind bars tonight accused of killing a 1-year-old baby, Justice Starks, who was in his care.

The child's father told us he suspected foul play immediately after her death. He says this arrest is a step towards closure.

An autopsy report shows the man charged in this case, LeRoy Metoyer III, told police he fell down the stairs while he was holding baby Justice.

The medical examiner found his explanation to be impossible based on the extent of her injuries, including third-degree burns on one hand.

"It hurts a's painful," said Jenerius Starks, the child's father.

It's been just over three months since Starks lost his first and only child.

RELATED: Father demands answers in death of 1-year-old daughter as warrant request is reviewed

Justice died on December 1st two days after allegedly falling down the stairs. At the time, Detroit Police told us she had been in the care of a "non-parent."

"I received a text just saying that my daughter had lots of brain damage, you can come to the hospital, she's at DMC Children's," said Starks.

The text came from the child's mother according to Jenerius. He also says they shared custody.

After weeks of waiting, he got Justice's autopsy report, which tells a very different story.

"It was a lot bruising, blunt force trauma, bleeding behind the eye, behind both eyes," said Starks.

According to the Wayne County Prosecutor's office, Metoyer III assaulted Justice while she was in his care.

Prosecutors say he was just a friend of the baby's mother, but Jenerius claims he was her boyfriend.

"I just can't really imagine. I just can't see how you can do that to any child, what kind of person is that?" said Jenerius.

We spoke to the child's maternal grandmother. She says gave us this statement on behalf of her daughter's attorney, William Nahikian.

Justice Stark’s mother has been working in cooperation with the Police and Prosecution with one goal in mind: receiving answers and justice for her daughter. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to bring Justice back and no form of retribution will make the family whole again. At this time, though the family is happy to see that the initial steps towards receiving answers and justice for Justice have been taken, the family is still grieving the tremendous loss of a daughter, granddaughter and niece. They are asking for privacy and understanding during these difficult times.

Starks said Justice loved nature and was always well-behaved.

"She was amazing," said Starks.

He says he often thinks about the woman she'd become.

"I had plenty of plans for my daughter, but she's not here anymore and I am dealing with that the best that I can," said Starks.

According to the autopsy report, Justice's cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma to the head.

"I am happy Detroit did the job. They were able to make an arrest and we got that, but I do feel like there's more," said Starks.

The Wayne County Prosecutor's office says they will share more facts and evidence at the preliminary examination on March 20th.

Metoyer is due in court before that on March 13th for a probable cause hearing.