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GRAPHIC: Child burned with boiling water says, 'I have to be happy'

Posted at 2:48 PM, Aug 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-24 14:48:32-04

NEW YORK (WABC/CNN) - An 11-year-old girl shared Wednesday how her recovery is going after she was severely burned with boiling water.

New York authorities believe the attack on Jamoni Merritt was supposed to be a horrible prank while the child was at a sleepover. The 11-year-old has bounced back two weeks after suffering second-and third-degree burns on 85 percent of her face.

"All I felt was hot water dripping down on my face, and I started jumping, saying 'Ooh, it's hot! It's hot!'" Jamoni said. "And she's like, 'I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! It was by accident. No, it was by accident!'

"No, that wasn't an accident."

She said she was splashed by a 12-year-old girl who had been bullying her. Police charged the girl as a juvenile, but Jamoni's mom said that wasn't good enough.

"I want justice," Ebony Merritt said. "I would like for the other two 14-year-old girls to be charged, and I would like for the mother to be charged as well."

Paul Prestia, the family's attorney, insisted the prank was inspired by a "hot water challenge" video on YouTube.

"How else would a 12-year-old girl come up with such an idea?" Prestia said. "It doesn't make sense. She had admitted to seeing this 'challenge,' to talking about this 'challenge' and then she carried it out."

Doctors said that if Jamoni is lucky, her scars will fade and her skin will return to its natural color.

Jamoni said, despite the trauma, she's not angry.

"I can't be angry," she said. "I have to be happy."

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