Demetris McCoy says he's sorry for the firestorm he caused after his two young nephews were videotaped as they smoked marijuana, but he says he doesn't believe he is the first to expose the boys to the illegal drug.
The Watauga 17-year-old is in the Tarrant County Jail, charged with injury to a child after police released a video of a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old boy doing drugs.
But even as he apologized in a jailhouse interview with WFAA-TV on Monday, Mr. McCoy talked about how his nephews didn't get high while smoking the marijuana. He predicted the youngsters would have eventually smoked the drug anyway.
"They wasn't even high," Mr. McCoy said. "They didn't even inhale it right."
The youngsters on the videotape are the children of Mr. McCoy's sister.
Mr. McCoy said he has been around marijuana all of his life and that drugs, for many, is just a part of growing up.
"Some people give their kids alcohol, let them smoke ice, methamphetamines. Weed ain't going to kill them," he said.
Mr. McCoy, the father of a 3-month-old daughter who said he is a high school dropout and pursuing a GED, said he has watched the video at the Tarrant County jail since his arrest last month.
"It happened, and I can't go back to the past," Mr. McCoy said. "I'm sorry for what I did. I'm sorry for the pain I caused my sister."
He described his nephews, who are now in foster care, as "puffing and playing with [the drug]."
Mr. McCoy said he allowed the children to smoke because he was high on marijuana at the time and also said he believed they had smoked the drug before.
Mr. McCoy's friend, 18-year-old Vanswan Polty, also is charged with injury to a child with bodily injury. If convicted, they could receive up to 10 years in prison and/or be fined $10,000.
The two were out on bail on a burglary charge in Watauga when the tape was made.
The tape was confiscated by Fort Worth police on Feb. 22 when officers executed a search warrant at Mr. McCoy's home in the 6000 block of Hickoryhill Road in Watauga.
Watauga Department of Public Safety Director Bruce Ure said the teens encouraged the two young boys to smoke a marijuana cigar.
The teens, laughing on the videotape as they offer the children the drug, call the boys "potheads." They also make jokes about the children having the "munchies."
"You're watching a crime in progress," Mr. Ure said. "This is their uncle, and he's encouraging them. They were so willing to go along, to please their uncle. Encouraging a 2-year-old who is clearly a baby – it's a baby, and they think it's funny watching him impaired."
Investigators, he said, were appalled as they watched the tape.
Mr. Ure said this was not the first time the children had been given marijuana.
"You can see that the 2-year-old, he's inhaling," Mr. Ure said.
The boys' mother told police that she was asleep in a back bedroom at the time of the recording.
Mr. McCoy said he is surprised by the attention the recording has raised, saying the media has blown the matter out of proportion.
"Nine times out of 10, kids are going to smoke," Mr. McCoy said. "Kids are going to smoke. It was going to eventually happen."
When told that media outlets across the world were showing the tape, Mr. McCoy said he did not welcome the attention.
"This ain't nothing to be famous for. This ain't good. I recorded it, and that's what hurt me most."
Police are searching a third teen who may have made the tape.
Mr. McCoy was arrested Feb. 23. Mr. Polty was arrested Friday in Fort Worth.
Both are being held in lieu of $150,000 bail.
A hearing to determine whether the boys would remain in foster care is set for March 26 in Tarrant County Juvenile Court, said Marissa Gonzales, spokeswoman for Child Protective Services.