‘We will continue to fight’: One month after 10-year-old KJ’s death, family seeks justice

Droves of community members have rallied around Sacramento County mother Brittani Frierson, but she still feels as if her wails and soul-shattering pain over her 10-year-old son’s shooting death don’t matter.

That’s because prosecutors declined to charge the alleged shooter, a 10-year-old boy, in the death of Keith Jhay “KJ” Frierson, saying there was no malice in the incident.

Frierson and her family disagree.

KJ was shot in the neck over Christmas break in the Foothill Farms Hillsdale Oaks condo community, allegedly by another 10-year-old boy who the Frierson family says lost a bike race. His family held a vigil at that condo complex to remember his death and renew calls for justice Tuesday, one month after his Dec. 30 death.

“I am not even knowledgeable how I have to do it,” Frierson said. “But, I have to try. There has to be change. We have to do something. And I … have to try. Try to get in the right rooms, try to get the right people to hear me, try to get the right people to care.”

The alleged shooter’s father, Arkete Davis, faces sole criminal responsibility in KJ’s death, prosecutors said at his Jan. 3 arraignment. Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies have said Davis asked his son to get cigarettes from his car, where the child found the gun and allegedly used it after losing a bike race. Davis is also accused of taking the gun and throwing it in the trash can.

He has pleaded not guilty to having a firearm that a child could easily access, leading to the death of another minor; two counts of child endangerment; having a firearm as a felon; having ammunition when prohibited from doing so; and destroying evidence.

Davis is no longer in custody. His next court appearance, a settlement conference, is scheduled for Feb. 14.

Frierson and her family worry the 10-year-old will continue his behavior if there are no consequences.

“We need to band together before this is somebody else’s reality,” said Nina Trepaigner, KJ’s godmother.

Children attending a vigil for Keith “KJ” Frierson on Tuesday stand near a memorial at the Hillsdale Oaks condo community, one month after he was shot and killed there on Dec. 30.
Children attending a vigil for Keith “KJ” Frierson on Tuesday stand near a memorial at the Hillsdale Oaks condo community, one month after he was shot and killed there on Dec. 30.

But without many answers, Frierson has begun to fall back on the support of the vocal community rallying around her. At least a dozen people — some area residents and a Twin Rivers Unified School District teacher who knew KJ — held flickering candles that illuminated photos of the 10-year-old’s young face on Tuesday while listening to Trepaigner.

Trepaigner’s voice, laced with anger and pain, implored people to listen as it echoed around the condo complex where KJ was shot atop his newly gifted bike.

The vigil ended with residents crying to the heavens: “Justice for KJ.”

Each chant grew in its intensity and desperation.

“We will continue to fight,” Trepaigner said, “until we have no breath left in our bodies.”

People hold candles during a vigil for Keith “KJ” Frierson on Tuesday in Foothill Farms, one month after he was shot and killed on Dec. 30 at the Hillsdale Oaks condo community where he lived.
People hold candles during a vigil for Keith “KJ” Frierson on Tuesday in Foothill Farms, one month after he was shot and killed on Dec. 30 at the Hillsdale Oaks condo community where he lived.