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Judge admits 5-year-old’s testimony against man accused of murdering his 11-year-old brother and their mother

A Cook County judge will allow prosecutors to use a 5-year-old boy’s testimony in their case against a man accused of killing the boy’s brother and brutally stabbing his mother just a day after being released from prison.

Judge Angela Petrone ruled Monday that the boy’s testimony during a hearing at the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center was credible enough to be used in Crosetti Brand’s trial in connection with the March 13 attack that killed 11-year-old Jayden Perkins and his mother was seriously injured.

Brand is accused of forcing his way into the home as the family was getting ready for school and repeatedly stabbing Perkins’ mother, who was pregnant, and fatally stabbing her 11-year-old son when he tried to intervene.

Later that day, during a 25-minute interview, the boy said: “I saw blood everywhere in my house. He wanted to kill my mother. … He (Brand) was stabbing her.”

Petrone wrote that the younger boy began talking about the allegations without prompting and answered the interrogator’s questions appropriate to his age.

“The facts show that there was little, if any, time to reflect and consider what happened,” the judge said.

Brand was released from prison last fall after serving eight of a 16-year sentence for assaulting another former partner.

After his release, Brand allegedly went to the home of Perkins’ mother, whom he had previously dated, and tried to gain entry to her apartment building. She contacted authorities and Brand was arrested again for allegedly violating a protective order against him.

The Prisoner Review Board decided to release him again. After the attack, the board chairman and another member stepped down from their positions, and Governor J.B. Pritzker proposed changes to the board.

Brand, who chose to represent himself in the case, objected to the boy’s testimony at last month’s hearing.

Brand argued that the police and fire reports he received as evidence did not name the boy as a witness or victim. The boy also spent hours between the attack and speaking to his family and police.

“When a person is 5 years old, they pick up on things… said by the people around them,” Brand told the judge during that hearing. “Every child can be convinced at the age of 5.”

The boy described Brand as a “savage” towards his mother and brother, saying he got the word from a news report and “it means a situation where someone is stabbed.”