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It started in a exchange of words and it turned deadly. The year was 2015.

The victim, Nicholas Grant, was 16. He was moved out of the Circle C Group Home on Carrick Avenue in the Carrick neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA because of verbal exchanges. Grant then returned to the group home, where Malik Crosby, who was also 16, and 17-year-old Yusuf Shepard punched and kicked Grant, who threw a vacuum cleaner at them. Enraged, the two other boys kicked and punched Grant, beat him with a vacuum cleaner and put a choke hold on him.

A defense attorney later said that Crosby and Shepard were trying to restrain Grant. He said Grant was told they would let go of him if Grant would stop trying to hurt them.

Grant was so wounded in the attack that he wasn’t breathing when Zone 3 police officers arrived. CPR was administered. The victim was transported to UPMC Mercy. He was on life support. He was listed in critical condition. Three days after the vicious assault, Grant died in the hospital.

Children and teens who lived at the Circle C Group Home went through difficult times. Child welfare personnel recommended living in that home when they determined it was in their best interest to be somewhere other than at home. The Circle C Group Home had room for nine troubled boys, ages 12 to 18. The Group C home promised a safe environment that could teach positive values leading to personal growth.

Following the murder, the Allegheny County Department Of Human Services declined to renew its contract with Circle C. The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services revoked the group home’s license. The death of the boy played a significant role in the decision. The state pointed to “documentation of ongoing child to child mistreatment or abuse resulting in the death of child cared for in the facility and receiving services from the agency,” the state wrote in a letter that cited failures to report incidents, inaccurate assessments of boys placed there and failing to provide needed medical treatment. The group home was permanently closed.

Shepard later pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and was sentenced to five to ten years. His mother said Shepard didn’t plan to kill that night, and she apologized to the dead boy’s mother for losing her son. The family of the dead boy was upset about the legal outcome.

Crosby served 27 months after he pleaded guilt to involuntary manslaughter. After being released on probation, he was arrested again – that time for allegedly choking and beating a woman, and dragging her across a wall after she said no to his sexual advances. He was also accused of destroying a TV and breaking a window. After he left, Crosby allegedly threatened to kill the woman and tried to get back into the residence, which is when the victim called the police.

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