During opening statements Tuesday in a Newton County courtroom, the defense lawyer for a Georgia couple accused of killing their newborn girl argued that no evidence exists that shows the defendants harmed their infant. Prosecutors argued that the baby’s parents killed her while living in small, messy trailer home, then disposed of her in a secluded, wooded area.
“They went after the people who were most vulnerable,” defense lawyer Anthony Carter told the court. “The people that had just lost their 2-week-old baby.”
Carter argued that Newton County authorities zeroed in on Christopher McNabb, the father of slain 15-day-old Caliyah McNabb, almost immediately after the baby’s disappearance, before her remains were found.
Assistant district attorney, Alex Stone, argued that not only did the suspects, including McNabb and the baby’s mother, Cortney Bell, kill their own child, but that the child was living with drug-addicted parents who were in a volatile, violent relationship.
“We’re going to show you exactly how this baby was living,” Alex Stone, assistant district attorney, told the court.
Caliyah McNabb disappeared from her Covington home in October 2017, at the Eagle Pointe mobile home park. Cortney Bell contacted police and said she woke up to find Caliyah missing and her toddler daughter crying. The woman claimed she had no idea what happened to Caliyah.
When police arrived to Bell’s residence, they rummaged through piled up clothes and boxes in a tiny trailer home, searching for signs of Caliyah. The baby’s father, Christopher McNabb, told police he searched throughout the wooded area surrounding their home but had no luck finding her.
A video shown in court Tuesday offered a more detailed glimpse into what happened the morning Caliyah was reported missing.
During testimony on Tuesday, Bell’s cousin, Megan Sorrells, said Bell was being abused at home during the time Caliyah vanished. She also testified that McNabb and Bell were constantly fighting. Sorrells said Bell never told her about the abuse, but as a domestic abuse victim herself, she could already tell.
“She always had bruises on her,” Sorrells said of Bell. “I didn’t really have to ask many questions. I could tell.”
According to court testimony, baby Caliyah stayed several days with her grandfather, Tim, after her birth. Tim testified that he returned the child home with milk and clean diapers in early October, and told his daughter, Bell, to clean up her filthy trailer home.
The next day, on October 6, Cortney Bell called 911 and reported the baby missing.
The warrant against McNabb states that baby Caliyah suffered a blow so severe to her head that her skull was “seriously disfigured and damaged beyond repair.”
After causing fatal injuries to the infant, McNabb wrapped her in a blanket and one of his t-shirts, then put her into his duffel bag, according to the warrant. He then reportedly took Caliyah into the woods and buried her in a depressed area under a log.
Captain Crum with the Newton County Police Department said that along with evidence found at the crime scene, McNabb made incriminating statements when first interviewed on October 6.
“I think we know and can prove in a court what happened and that’s the next step,” Crum said in 2018. “He had made a couple of initial statements then he indicated to investigators he did not wish to talk anymore.”
Detectives working the case said last year that the crime was planned. They indicated there would be evidence to prove that McNabb “planned her murder,” before hiding the baby in the woods.
McNabb, who has a long history of non-violent crimes, jumped out of a car on October 7 when he heard that Caliyah’s remains had been found. He ran to a nearby convenience store and started shouting to store clerk Julie Hannah, who had no idea who he was. He kept repeating that he didn’t kill his child, according to court documents.
A family friend who spoke exclusively to CrimeOnline in October 2018, said she was in the process of driving McNabb, Bell, and Bell’s mother to an interview with a local station, when they caught wind that searchers located a baby. According to the friend, McNabb immediately jumped out of her car at a red light and fled to a nearby store.
“He started hollering and talking about, ‘They are going to get me. They are going to get me. I’ve been running all day. I have been in the woods all day,'” Hannah said last year.
Police arrested McNabb around four hours later. He was soaking wet after hiding out in pouring rain.
“I didn’t do it. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t the baby’s mama, y’all going to look crazy when you figure this out,” McNabb reportedly said to Hannah, according to FOX 5.
McNabb is facing charges of aggravated battery, felony murder, malice murder, and concealing the death of another. The Newton County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that the baby died from blunt force trauma.
In January 2018, after months of investigation, authorities arrested Bell in connection with Caliyah’s death. She’s facing charges of murder in the second degree, cruelty to children, and the deprivation of a minor.
The trial continues. Check back with CrimeOnline for updates.
[Feature Photo: Caliyah McNabb/Handout]