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LISTEN ON DEMAND: THIS AMERICAN LIFE tribute to the 10 killed in the Tops Market shootings.

Guilty verdict reversed in death of 5-year-old Eain Brooks

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Eain's Echo
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The disturbing details of the death of 5-year-old Eain Brooks will be heard again by a jury, after an Appellate Division panel reversed the verdict of his convicted killer.

The panel asserts that jury bias was evident during the trial of Matthew Kuzdzal, who was found guilty of second-degree murder and predatory sexual assault.

The case drew community outrage as details emerged. Kuzdzal was the boyfriend of Brooks' mother and was alone with the child at the time of his death.

The case also cast a negative light upon the county's Child Protective Services, which had been contacted on multiple occasions by relatives who had expressed their concerns over Brooks' safety. Kuzdzal was often charged with the care of the five-year-old.

Kuzdzal, who was 27 at the time, was sentenced to 50 years-to-life in prison in October 2014. During the sentencing hearing, Kuzdzal said he takes full responsibility for his actions that resulted in the death of Brooks, but would not take responsibility for sexually assaulting the young boy.

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Credit WBFO's Ashley Hirtzel
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Matthew Kuzdzal in New York State Supreme Court during his 2014 sentencing hearing.

“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of what happened on the tragic day of September 15, 2013, he said. "I wish that I could do something to change it, but I can’t. There’s nothing I can say or do to change what happened that day. If I could trade my life for Eain’s, I would in a heartbeat.”

During the trial, Kuzdzal admitted to becoming angry with Eain while watching him in September of 2013 and acknowledged slapping the boy and shoving him toward the shower, causing a head injury. Eain died two days later. Kuzdzal also admitted to using heroin on the day Eain was injured.

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