A New Jersey man who initially claimed his girlfriend’s daughter died after a fatal fall down the stairs has now admitted to killing her.
Travis Graham, 23, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter on Friday in connection with the 2017 death of 3-year-old Charlette Dawkins, according to NJ.com. She was the daughter of his live-in girlfriend.
Although the girl died nearly two years ago, Graham did not officially become a suspect in her death until last summer, when he was arrested in connection with a slew of armed robberies. During that arrest, his recollection of how she died changed, NJ.com reports.
Graham said the girl didn’t simply just fall. Rather, he said he backhand-slapped the girl at the top of the stairs. The hit was full of so much force that she “was spun around and fell down the steps face first,” he said, according to the affidavit of probable cause obtained by NJ.com. The backhand hit her first on her forehead, according to the Associated Press.
Investigators at that time found text messages revealing he waited hours before taking the toddler to a hospital. Initially, he claimed he brought her right away.
He told investigators he got involved in robberies to support a drug habit to “forget a lot of stuff.” The death of Charlotte was one such event he claimed he was trying to forget about.
On Friday, in addition to manslaughter, Graham also pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to commit armed robbery. He’s currently serving a five-year prison term for some of the robberies.
He’ll be sentenced for the charges he pleaded to Friday on July 25. The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office said it will recommend a sentence of 30 years in prison. He previously rejected a deal with a a proposed 40-year sentence.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.