Georgia parents convicted in newborn’s death want new trials

<p>Christopher McNabb and Courtney Bell</p> <p>Caliyah McNabb was reported missing from Covington. Her parents were brough in for questioning.&nbsp;</p>

Credit: WSB-TV McNabb family

Credit: WSB-TV McNabb family

<p>Christopher McNabb and Courtney Bell</p> <p>Caliyah McNabb was reported missing from Covington. Her parents were brough in for questioning.&nbsp;</p>

The Newton County parents convicted of murder says there is no evidence they killed their 2-week-old daughter.

Both Christopher Michael McNabb and Cortney Marie Bell have filed motions for new trials, according to documents filed in Newton Superior Clerk. Both were convicted of killing baby Caliyah in May 2019.

In his motion filed Monday, McNabb says prosecutors were unable to prove he killed baby Caliyah and that his prior attorney was ineffective during the trial.

“There was no physical or direct evidence produced that demonstrated that Mr. McNabb caused the child’s death. Nor was the State able to demonstrate what actually caused the child’s severe injuries,” McNabb’s motion states. “The thrust of the State’s case was that Mr. McNabb was a bad man that lived in a bad environment.”

<p>Chris McNabb and Courtney Bell were found guilty for the murder of their 2-week-old daughter Caliyah.</p> <p>Caliyah McNabb was reported missing from Covington. Her parents were brough in for questioning.&nbsp;</p>

Credit: WSB-TV McNabb family

icon to expand image

Credit: WSB-TV McNabb family

In her motion for a new trial, filed in late January, Bell also says prosecutors did not prove she was responsible for Caliyah’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 states.

A jury deliberated about an hour before convicting both McNabb and Bell following a joint trial. McNabb was sentenced to life in prison without parole, Bell to 30 years with 15 to serve.

But both parents were adamant they weren’t responsible for Caliyah’s death.

“I’m innocent. I didn’t do it,” McNabb told Judge John Ott before his sentencing. “If you ever find out who did it, they deserve to be under the jail.”

In October 2017, Bell reported the baby missing from the family’s mobile home. That night, McNabb angrily demanded the child’s return in front of television cameras. It’s likely that Caliyah was already dead by the time McNabb pleaded for the community’s help in finding her, according to investigators.

>> RELATED: Newton County parents guilty in 2-week-old's death

>> ALSO: "I swear to God. Nothing bad happened to that little girl"

The following day, Caliyah's tiny body was found in a drawstring Nike bag in a wooded area not far from the family's home. A medical examiner testified the baby had multiple skull fractures and her teeth poked through her gums.

McNabb was the first to be arrested and charged in Caliyah’s death. Months later, Bell was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

During the trial, District Attorney Layla Zon said only Caliyah's parents could have been the culprits in her death. McNabb and Bell kept a filthy home, used drugs and had a violent relationship, jurors learned during their trial.

“She was a gift to Cortney Bell and Christopher McNabb,” Zon said during closing arguments. “That child was doomed the moment they left that hospital. They took pure innocence and brought that child into a life of hell.”

In his request for a new trial, McNabb says prosecutors brought up irrelevant information at his first trial in order to prejudice the jury. But his attorney, Anthony Carter, did not object to the information being presented.

“...the State introduced and repeatedly mentioned that Mr. McNabb had consumed methamphetamine despite not being charged with possession of a controlled substance,” the motion states.

Bell cooperated with law enforcement during the search for Caliyah and was not responsible for the child’s death, her motion states.

“Again, there is no evidence showing Ms. Bell’s participation with anything, only an association with Mr. McNabb, her children’s father,” the motion states.

McNabb is currently an inmate at Hays State Prison in Trion, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections. Bell is currently serving at Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville. A relative has custody of the couple’s older daughter.

The jury found Christopher McNabb and Courtney Bell guilty on all counts for the murder of 2-week-old Caliyah, who was killed in 2017.