A Mississippi couple has been charged in connection with the killing of 14-month old Jurayah Smith, who was found dead on October 22, 2017.
According to Claiborne County Sheriff Frank Davis, Morris Bevily IV, 27, and T'Kia Bevily, 25, have been charged with capital murder and being held at the Claiborne County jail.
Morris and T’Kia, who are the girl’s father and stepmother, turned themselves in on Monday, April 30.
Davis said it took this long for the couple to be charged because they had to wait for an official autopsy report from the state crime lab.
The lab released the results on April 22, the same day the case was presented to a grand jury.
According to Davis, long waits for evidence from the state crime lab is a Mississippi state-wide problem due to a lack of human resources at the lab.
"It's bad for us as law enforcement officials because there's no way we should be waiting for this long," Davis told the Ledger. "...We have no choice. We just have to live with it because they're the ones we have to give our cases to."
Davis hopes the arrests of Morris and T’Kia will provide relief to Jurayah's mother and the rest of the little girl’s family.
"The family will receive some sort of satisfaction — though they'll never be totally satisfied — knowing the case is presented to the court of law and people will stand trial for this child's murder," Davis told the Ledger.
Last year, DeDreuna Smith, who identified herself as the girl’s mother, streamed a video to Facebook on May 1, 2018, calling for “justice for Jurayah.”
"At the end of the day, I can't get my baby back. She ain't never gonna come back," she said in the video. Days before turning herself in, T’Kia allegedly created a GoFundMe to raise bail. Although the page has since been deleted, a screenshot from the page has been shared to social media.
On the page, the couple maintained their innocence, claiming the girl died from asphyxiation, even though the official autopsy report revealed Jurayah died from blunt force trauma.
Rest in power, Jurayah Smith.