A 13-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree murder over the death of his five-year-old half-sister after investigators said he told them he repeatedly struck her with wrestling moves imitated from TV.
"The 13-year-old reported he started to wrestle with the victim and practised WWE-style wrestling moves on the five-year-old," said Colonel John Fortunato of Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office in New Orleans.
The moves allegedly included repeatedly slamming the girl on a bed, punching her in the stomach, jumping on her and striking her with his elbow. A coroner's investigation found the girl died of multiple injuries, including broken ribs, lacerations of the liver and internal bleeding.
WWE released a statement offering condolences to the victim's family but cautioned against attributing the death to the industry.
"Authorities have already charged the accused with second-degree murder and determined that this was not an accidental death due to a wrestling move," the organisation said.
"As in similar cases, criminal intent to harm and a lack of parental supervision have been the factors resulting in a tragic death."
The boy had been left to babysit the girl by his stepmother when the alleged beating occurred, authorities said. The girl later complained of a stomach ache, and when she stopped breathing, he called emergency services. Responders could not revive her and she was pronounced dead in hospital.
The boy was taken to a juvenile facility and arrested on a second-degree murder arrest warrant after he was interviewed by homicide detectives. They said the boy explained that he knew the wrestling moves on TV were fake, but he was smiling and appeared to enjoy talking about them.
"The 13-year-old continued by saying the victim complained that she was hurting, but he continued to slam, punch and elbow her for an additional two or three minutes, stopping when his mother called him on the phone to check on he and the victim," sheriff's officials said.