A Douglas County jury Tuesday convicted a couple accused of killing a baby in a case so brutal the woman said she was “going to hell” for what they had done.
“It is hard to imagine anything worse than the repeated abuse of a helpless innocent child,” District Attorney Brian Fortner said. “The death of Diarra Chappell was one of the toughest cases our office handled this year.”
Diarra Chappell, 13 months old, was living with her mother’s ex-boyfriend Darius Virger and his wife Alexis Cave, and was a “source of constant conflict” for the couple who had a child of their own, said David Emadi, spokesman for the district attorney.
The couple initially contended the child fell out of her high chair on Valentine’s Day 2013 but the large bruises on her head, torso and chest and pooling of blood on her brain instead showed “abusive head trauma,” Emadi said.
Initially the investigation led to charges against Darius Lamont Virger of Douglasville. The 30-year-old man is accused of swinging Diarra by the ankles and striking her head against a love seat multiple times, causing “numerous hemorrhages to her head,” according to the arrest warrant obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Cave’s story changed multiple times in interviews with law enforcement,” Emadi said. “At trial, Cave testified and changed her story for a fourth time, testifying that she came down the stairs and observed defendant Virger swinging the baby by her feet and slamming her against the back of the couch.”
The couple then put the child in the crib and went to bed, the spokesman. They didn’t take the child to the hospital until they noticed Diarra wasn’t breathing the next day, Emadi said. Doctors also found evidence of sexual abuse, he said.
Cave admitted she got angry because Virger paid more attention to Diarra than their own child and they found the child’s excessive crying frustrating, Emadi said. Medical testimony indicated Diarra may have survived if she had received timely medical attention.
“During one interview after law enforcement left the room, Cave can be heard on video saying that she is “going to hell” for what they’ve done, Emadi said. “Virger was stuck with a baby he didn’t want, and Cave was stuck with a baby she hated.”
Superior Court Judge David T. Emerson is expected to sentence the couple in January.