A Georgia appeals court overturned a mother’s murder conviction in the death of her newborn daughter in 2017, citing “insufficient evidence” for a jury to convict her of first-degree murder. two and second degree cruelty to children. . However, the three-judge panel still supported Cortney Bell’s convicted of a crime of contributing to dependence on a minor.
Bell in 2019 was tried along with the victim’s father, Christopher McNabbfor killing a 2 week old baby Caliyah McNabb. About an hour after closing arguments were presented, a jury of six men and six women found Bell guilty of second-degree murder, child cruelty, and a felony contributing to dependence. of minors. McNabb was convicted of the counts of malicious murder, felony murder, aggravating and concealing a death.
The trial judge sentenced Bell to 30 years in prison for murder and cruelty to children, with 15 years in prison and 15 years of probation. On contributing to a minor crime, the court sentenced Bell to 10 years in prison, along with a murder sentence.
An autopsy determined that Caliyah died “rapidly” after suffering “severe head trauma.” Court documents say McNabb attacked Caliyah with “an unidentified object” that left “the victim’s skull severely deformed and beyond repair.” Her skull was so damaged that the pathologist who performed the autopsy said her “falling teeth” – teeth that hadn’t yet come out of her gums – had “come out” and were visible. .
However, after considering the evidence in the best interest of the prosecution, the appellate court found that a reasonable jury could not find that Bell committed the elements necessary to prove murder other than a reasonable doubt. Specifically, the court argued that her actions could not be deemed to have “caused” Caliyah “excessive and cruel physical pain in sustaining her with severe head trauma,” as stated in the statement. her indictment.
“No evidence has been presented that Bell directly inflicted pain and cruelty on the victim by inflicting a severe head injury; causing others to perform acts; assist or abet the action; or she counseled, encouraged, hired, advised, or bribed someone to do so,” the appeals court wrote in the 39-page ruling. “Nothing can be ruled out as a reasonable possibility that she was asleep when the victim was removed from the home and/or killed, and that there was no action taken by her before, during or after the victim’s disappearance and death. that the jury may issue. such an inference. ”
Trial testimony from friends and family members revealed that McNabb and Bell had a tumultuous relationship, rife with drug addiction and physical abuse. Bell on October 1, 2017 left 8-day-old Caliyah and her 2-year-old sister with her family because “there was some violence going on” at the mobile home she shared with McNabb.
Caliyah’s grandfather kept Caliyah at his home until Bell and McNabb made the house more suitable for the kids. He returned the children to the parents on October 6, 2017. He testified that when he pulled up to the home McNabb was “hiding behind a tree” because they “never got along.” Bell’s cousin testified that he smoked methamphetamine with the couple that evening.
The next morning, Bell called his grandfather and the others asking if they would take Caliyah away because she was missing. She called 911 and told the dispatcher that when she woke up that morning, the child was gone. Caliyah’s body was found the next day in the woods near the trailer. She was stuffed in McNabb’s gym bag, which still contained some of his clothes.
McNabb was arrested and charged with murder the day Caliyah’s body was discovered. Bell was arrested a few months later, on January 7, 2018.
In upholding a felony that contributed to a minor charge, the court agreed that there was evidence of Bell’s conduct during the day leading up to Caliyah’s death – such as making meth and leaving the kids around a whimsical McNabb. change – “played an important part in her death and that death was a reasonably possible consequence of that neglect.”
Newton County District Attorney Randy McGinley The state still has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the state supreme court.
Read the verdict below.
[image via WXIA screengrab]
Is there a trick we should know? [email protected]
https://lawandcrime.com/crime/georgia-mothers-murder-conviction-in-death-of-newborn-baby-reversed-by-appeals-court-due-to-insufficient-evidence/ Cortney Bell Murder exposed