8-year old killed trying to protect his sister from rape; 16-year old charged

APMartin Cobb vigil

A 16-year old Virginian was charged Saturday with murder and strangulation after killing an eight-year old boy who was trying to protect his 12-year old sister.

The eight-year old, Martin Cobb, was hit in the head with a brick on Thursday after he tried to stop the attacker from raping his sister.

Richmond Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Mary E. Langer confirmed that the child suffered severe trauma to the head and died at the scene.

The siblings were playing near the train tracks behind their Richmond home when the teenager approached them. He tried to sexually assault the girl, and beat Cobb to death when he intervened.

The 16-year old also intimidated the sister—telling her that her family would be hurt if she described him to police. With the help of neighbors, the suspect was identified.

"The community's response has been tremendous," Richmond Police spokesperson Dionne Waugh told NBC News. "They played a very important role in gathering information to lead us to this point."

The sister's injuries are unknown, and she remains at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.

An aunt of the children, Geraldine Pitchford, told reporters that the girl was in stable condition.

"As far as I know, she's doing fine... She's doing better. She's OK," Pitchford told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Neighbors and family members described Cobb as a courageous boy who loved and protected his sister.

"You saw one. The other was there. They were never apart," Pastor Dr. Theodore Hughey of Abundant Life Church told the Associated Press.

"He felt like he was his sister's protector," Tracy Lightsey, a neighbor, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

"He was his sister's keeper till his death."

Early Saturday evening, neighbors gathered in front of a sign in the lawn of the Cobb home on the 200 block of Brandon Road. The sign read: "Martin: A real hero lived, fought and died here."

Cobb was a first-grader at Elizabeth D. Redd Elementary School.