Caliyah McNabb [Handout]

Caliyah McNabb: Parents who beat newborn, cracked her skull & buried her in woods seek new trials

Two Georgia parents convicted last year of murdering their newborn, Caliyah McNabb, claim that there is no evidence tying them to the infant’s death.

AJC reports that Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell both filed motions for new trials at the Newton County Superior Court on Monday. McNabb claims that not only did prosecutors fail to prove he killed his newborn, but that his own attorney was ineffective in representing him.

McNabb previously said his attorney did an “incredible job” and didn’t have any plans of finding a new one.

How do you protect your children from predators? Join Nancy Grace and a team of world-class experts for the online course ‘Justice Nation: Crime Stops Here’.

Bell claimed that the state also failed to show evidence that she played any part in her daughter’s death.

“The State did not prove that Ms. Bell caused Caliyah’s death, at best they attempted at trial to prove that she contributed to the circumstances that led to Caliyah’s death,” her motion read.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, McNabb was sentenced in May 2019 to life in prison without the possibility of parole on charges of malice murder, aggravated assault, and other related charges.

Bell was sentenced to 30 years in prison, with the possibility of parole in 15 years, on charges of second-degree murder, child deprivation, and child cruelty.

McNabb grew angry after the guilty verdict, which took the jury around an hour to decide. Judge John Ott ordered him out of the courtroom. When he returned for sentencing, McNabb claimed he was innocent and planned to appeal.

“The whole thing was a set-up,” McNabb hissed, clearly angry with the verdict. “I was beat as a child and I don’t agree with this at all. I don’t agree with this at all. I would never do this.”

Bell shed tears during sentencing as she also claimed innocence. Ott told Bell that she allowed a “rattlesnake into her home” by putting McNabb before her children and allowing violence and drugs into her children’s lives.

“You chose meth and McNabb over a baby,” Ott said. “Like most criminals, you have a version of what a good mama is that is so far from the norm.”

Baby Caliyah’s Short Life

In October 2017, the Newton County Medical Examiner’s Office reported that Caliyah died from blunt force trauma to the head. The injuries were gruesome. The infant had been beaten so badly that her baby teeth, which had not yet developed, stuck out through her gums.

The baby also suffered a blow so severe to her head that her skull was “seriously disfigured and damaged beyond repair.” McNabb caused the injuries, then in a panic, wrapped the baby in a blanket and one of his t-shirts, and put her into a Nike drawstring bag.

McNabb then took the infant into the woods behind his home in Covington and buried her in a depressed area under a log.

It’s unclear exactly what caused the fatal beating, but according to testimony by Bell’s cousin, Gerald Weatherford, both Bell and McNabb smoked meth with him on October 7, 2017, the night before Caliyah disappeared.

Caliyah McNabb

“Cortney Bell was too busy smoking methamphetamine to protect her child,” Assistant District Attorney Alex Stone said.

During testimony last week, 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.”

Court testimony also indicated that little Caliyah wasn’t around her parents much in the mere 14 days she was alive. After spending four days in the hospital after birth, McNabb and Bell passed the baby off to family members multiple times. Caliyah stayed several days with her grandfather, Tim Bell.

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 following day, Caliyah was dead.

Although Bell wasn’t accused of physically harming the baby, by allowing Caliyah to live in a dangerous environment while doing nothing to protect her, makes her culpable of murder.

Ott explained to Bell that her second-degree murder charge meant that irrespective of malice, while she was in the commission of neglecting her baby, she helped caused her death.

Zon added that Caliyah best days were the days she stayed in the hospital after birth and that the baby was “doomed” as soon as she was taken home.

“That child was doomed the moment they left that hospital. They took pure innocence and brought that child into a life of hell.”

For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Here is a related episode. 

Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most – your children.

[Feature Photo: Caliyah McNabb/Handout]