A pair of Georgia parents who prosecutors say were high on meth in 2017 when their 15-day-old daughter was killed were found guilty of murder this week after a jury deliberated for only an hour.
Courtney Marie Bell and Christopher McNabb were found guilty Tuesday of killing of killing their infant daughter, Caliyah. McNabb was convicted on eight counts, including malice murder while Bell was convicted on three counts, including murder in the second degree. Both parents still maintain their innocence.
"I'm innocent. I didn't do it, I've maintained that the whole time," McNabb said in court, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta. "If you ever find out who did it, they deserve to be under the jail."
Bell cried in court and expressed, “Y’all know I didn’t do this.”
When the judge told Bell that what she did “flies in the face of what any mother would do,” Bell responded, “It’s a sickness but I tried to be a good mama.”
The sickness she is seemingly referring to is her methamphetamine addiction. Prosecutors said the couple smoked meth before killing Caliyah.
On Oct. 7, 2017, Bell reported her daughter was missing from a bedroom in the trailer park where the couple lived. The next day the infant's body was found in a wooded area right next to the trailer park. The baby died of blunt force head trauma, according to a Covington News report from 2018. The defense claimed that someone broke in, took the child and killed her while the couple slept.
"All this fake crying and fake tears he did during the interviews about how much he loved his children and that he did in the courtroom are a joke," Prosecutor Layla Zon said of McNabb.
McNabb was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Bell received 30 years in prison with 15 years to serve, plus another 10-year sentence to serve at the same time.
"Probably the worst thing that could happen to Chris is that he loses his child and then he goes to prison for killing his child when he didn't do it,” Anthony Carter, McNabb’s lawyer, said during his closing statement before the sentencing. He said that yes, McNabb physically abused Bell, and yes the couple used drugs but maintained they didn’t kill little Caliyah.
The prosecution said McNabb killed the child while Bell’s negligence contributed to that murder.
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