Searchers found Caliyah McNabb's body in the woods in Newton County.

Why did DA delay trial of parents charged in newborn’s murder?

Two inmates in a neighboring county have provided Newton County investigators with possible new evidence in the death of a 14-day-old baby, according to the district attorney. 

The murder trial for Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell, both accused of killing their baby Caliyah, was scheduled to begin Aug. 13. But this week, DA Layla Zon requested it be delayed while investigators sort through new information. 

“The source of this information is from two jailed inmates in Jasper County,” Zon wrote in a motion filed this week. “The information provided led to an investigative act of potential evidence being collected…That evidence is being sent to the crime lab for testing.”

Christopher McNabb, left, and Cortney Bell pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the death of their 2-week-old daughter.

No details about the potential evidence was released, but the DA said extra time was “in the interest of justice.” The attorneys for both McNabb and Bell were notified of the request to delay the trial, the motion states. 

Zon also cited a second reason for delaying the trial. The lead prosecutor on the case must tend to his wife during a serious medical procedure, according to the motion. 


MORE: Why did baby Caliyah have to die? Community wants answers

RELATED: Newton County parents plead not guilty in death of daughter


In October, Bell called 911 to report the newborn missing and hours later, McNabb pleaded publicly for the baby’s safe return. But by then, according to investigators, little Caliyah was already dead. 

The following day, Caliyah’s body was found in the woods near the couple’s mobile home. She had been wrapped in clothing and placed in a bag belonging to her father, according to investigators. An autopsy determined she died from blunt force trauma to the head. Prosecutors believe McNabb and Bell smoked meth the night before the baby was reported missing. 

October 13, 2017 Covington - A memorial of flowers is at the area, where the newborn's body was found, near Eagle Mobile Home Park in Covington on Friday, October 13, 2017.HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

McNabb was charged with Caliyah’s murder in the days after her death. Then in January, a grand jury indicted him on eight counts, including malice murder, felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another. Both remained Thursday in the Newton jail. 

While in custody, McNabb was indicted on an additional charges for allegedly throwing a jail television to the floor and threatening to hit another man, court records showed. 

Earlier this month, Zon requested that McNabb and Bell stand trial together and Judge John Ott agreed. A new trial date has not yet been set. 

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