‘I’m the reason my mom is dead,’ 13-year-old girl accused of stabbing mother to death

In charging documents, police say the teenager told them she attacked her mother during an argument

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A 13-year-old girl in Luzerne County admitted to Wilkes-Barre police she stabbed her mother to death Friday, according to a criminal complaint.

“I killed my mom,” Lataya Powell told an officer while they stood on her South Sherman Street porch. “She’ll never forgive me if she is alive.”

Officers rushed to South Sherman Street shortly after noon because a teenage girl, later identified as Powell, told a 911 call taker that her mother, Temeeka Tucker, was dead and it was Powell’s fault.

Luzerne County Chief Public Defender Joseph Yeager, who was later appointed to represent Powell, told officers she would not agree to an interview. 

In a statement released Saturday, county officials say they do not believe Powell has other immediate local family. 

Powell is jailed at the Luzerne County Correctional facility without bail. President Judge Michael T. Vough denied her bail during her arraignment because she is charged with criminal homicide, among other counts, records show.

Tucker, 44, was stabbed several times in her chest and back and was soon pronounced dead by Luzerne County Coroner Jill Matthews. An 11-year-old boy in the home also suffered stab-wounds but he is expected to survive.

Powell told investigators she stabbed her mother during an argument and a neighbor reported to police he heard screaming in the apartment before the police arrived.

Home security camera footage confirmed Powell’s story she threw the knife used to stab her mother toward the porch of a neighboring home, investigators said. It was unclear from the court paperwork if the police found the blade.

Investigators noted that kitchen drawers and cabinets were padlocked. One drawer used to store cutlery had been broken into. The padlock used to secure the drawer was found on the ground.

Police also noted that blood stained Powell’s hands. Locked in the back of a police car, she kicked at the cage and yelled: “I’m the reason my mom is dead,” according to the complaint.

“I deserve to be in jail,” she said, according to police.

Those who live on South Sherman Street told Newswatch 16 the family was new to the neighborhood. 

Newswatch 16 saw the police spend hours searching the property and speaking with neighbors.

Other than homicide, Powell is charged with aggravated assault for allegedly harming an 11-year-old boy and evidence tampering for purportedly tossing the knife used in the assault.

A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled April 10 in Luzerne County Central Court. 

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