There have been some new developments in the case of the murder of two-year-old Ja'mari Madkins, whose lifeless body was found buried in a shallow grave in Napa County back in December.
The Bay Area was stunned by the news, shortly after Christmas 2022, that a toddler's remains were found in a roadside grave not far from the Solano-Napa county border. We learned from law enforcement at the time that the boy's killing had occurred in Oakland, but much of the story was kept from the public until March, when charges were filed against two men.
As Bay Area News Group reported, the primary suspect in Ja'mari's death has been 22-year-old Keonte Harris of Antioch, who's been identified by investigators as the boy's mother's pimp. The boy's mother, who's being referred to in court documents as Jane Doe, was reportedly 17 years old at the time of Ja'mari's death, and investigators believe Harris was tasked with babysitting the toddler while the mother was being trafficked on International Boulevard in Oakland on December 7. (Doe had herself been reported missing out of Solano County days before, and allegedly was living out of Harris's car with her son.) It was during that babysitting time that Harris allegedly struck the child while trying to potty-train him, and the mother returned to the car to find him unconscious and limp.
Harris has been in Santa Rita Jail since December 23, but he had only previously been charged with sex trafficking.
On March 9, 21-year-old Joel Saavedra was also charged with being an accessory after the fact, and Harris was subsequently charged with assault on a child causing death. Prosecutors believe that Harris, after assaulting and killing the boy and refusing to take him to a hospital, drove to his friend Saavedra's house in Fairfield, seeking help in disposing of the body.
The two then allegedly drove down Rockville Road into Napa County where the boy's body was found.
Now, though, Saavedra's defense has told a judge that there is insufficient evidence to connect him to the crime — and they cite that Harris allegedly did not mention getting help with the burial and never implicated Saavedra directly. His connection to the crime apparently came from the boy's mother, Jane Doe.
"The defense sympathizes with Jane Doe and her situation. However, she has history of omitting and lying to police,” wrote attorney Siera Promise Dugan in a motion arguing for Saavedra’s release, per Bay Area News Group.
The judge in the case appeared sympathetic to this, and agreed to waive Saavedra's $500,000 bail and release him with an electronic monitor.
According to Bay Area News Group, Saavedra's friends and family also spoke highly of him, attesting to his character in court filings, and noting that he has a young son of his own.
The next court date in the case, which is being prosecuted in Oakland, is June 8.