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Grandson admits killing Malcolm X's widow

The 12-year-old grandson of Malcolm X yesterday pleaded guilty to the equivalent of second-degree manslaughter and second-degree arson in the fire which killed his grandmother, Betty Shabazz, last month.

After pleading guilty, Malcolm Shabazz was asked by the prosecution to say what he had done.

"Start a fire," he said, before the family court judge, Howard Spitz, stopped him from saying any more.

"I don't think we need to go into this," he said.

Malcolm showed no emotion and sat quietly with his hands clasped in front of him while several other charges were sealed and not revealed. His plea will cover them all.

The maximum sentence is 18 months in detention which could then be re- evaluated on a yearly basis until he is 18.

Malcolm is the son of Qubilah Shabazz, who saw her father murdered in Harlem in 1965 and was accused in 1994 of plotting a revenge attack on the Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan. After a troubled stint with his mother in Texas, Malcolm was sent this year to live with his grandmother in Yonkers, New York.

His mother was in the courtroom for the hearing, and both she and Malcolm were asked if they understood the charges and waived the right to trial by pleading.

His defence lawyer, Percy Sutton, who had also represented Malcolm X, said he had seen many sad things in his life "but this was the saddest." Malcolm is due back in court next Tuesday.