A 20-year-old man has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter yesterday in connection to the fatal beating of a 17-month-old boy. Pedro Jones was babysitting his girlfriend's child at the Shinnecock Indian Reservation on Sunday, and killed him "by striking him several times throughout his body with his closed fists and grabbing him by the neck," according to court documents. When asked why, Jones said, "I was trying to make him act like a boy instead of a little girl."

The police arrived after a 911 call from the reservation, and found the child in cardiac arrest. He was declared dead at Southampton Hospital. Jones, not a member of the Shinnecock Nation, pleaded not-guilty to the charges, and said, "I never struck that kid that hard before. A one-time mistake and I am going to do 20 years." Shinnecock Nation members were present at the arraignment, and the child's grandmother yelled, "You killed my grandson. I hope you rot in hell." Another Nation member spit on Jones as he was led out of the courtroom.

A tribe spokeswoman said the whole tribe is in mourning, but the child's grandfather said, "He infiltrated my family through our trust, through the heart of my daughter and then stole the life of her child. I hope the justice system turns around and steals his." Jones is currently being held without bail at the Suffolk County jail.