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Man charged for allegedly hugging toddler to death

Published On: Aug 06 2014 09:48:25 AM CDT   Updated On: Jul 17 2014 09:39:07 AM CDT
Leroy Kemp and Jaylen Harris

Orangeburg County Sheriff 's Office,


A South Carolina sheriff says a 26-year-old man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter more than a year after he hugged a 14-month-old child so tightly that the boy stopped breathing and died.

A news release from Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell says Robert Kemp, of Columbia, S.C.,  was taken into custody Tuesday and released on a $10,000 bond Wednesday.

Kemp is described as a family friend of 14-month-old Jaylen Harris.

According to an arrest warrant, Kemp killed the toddler "by giving him a bear hug, squeezing the victim so tight that the victim stopped breathing as a result."

After the hug on June 27, 2013, someone in the home noticed the child was unconscious in his crib and unsuccessfully tried to resuscitate him, investigators said.

The toddler died from asphyxiation., said the sheriff.

The sheriff's release didn't say why it took a year to bring charges or give additional information on why Kemp was charged.

A spokeswoman for the sheriff did not respond to an email or phone message.

If convicted, Kemp faces up to five years in prison.