Gwinnett cult baby murder trial begins, bringing up awful memories
Iasia Sweeting, on the left after graduating high school in 2016, and on the right, in the hospital after police found her from a hotel in Peachtree Corners, where she was allegedly starved. (Channel 2 Action News)
In the days after her 2014 rescue, Iasia Sweeting, 21 at the time, weighed around 59 pounds and couldn’t walk or move on her own. In the fetal position, she lay in bed at a house near Turner Field and stared with vacant eyes toward a window as her mother looked at her in disbelief and heartbreak. Perhaps worst of all, Sweeting, a former DeKalb School of the Arts student and budding spoken-word artist, couldn’t speak.
This week, Sweeting could say plenty.
Her mother said Sweeting has been told to be ready to testify this week in the Gwinnett County murder trial for Calvin Mcintosh, who is accused by authorities of murder in the starving death of Sweeting’s 15-month-old daughter, as well as starving three other children and Sweeting for some sort of “misbehavior.” The trial, expected to last up to two weeks, began Monday with jury selection.
Sweeting and her family have said she was abducted in 2010 by Mcintosh, a purported member of the so-called cult Nuwaubian Nation of Moors in DeKalb County. But DeKalb police declined to charge Mcintosh and instead classified Sweeting as a runaway.
Mcintosh and his daughter, Najlaa Mcintosh, who is also charged with murder and allegedly denying Sweeting and the children with food at the order of her father, though her trial hasn’t been set. Both Mcintoshes have pleaded not guilty and have been in jail since 2014.
Meanwhile, Sweeting has made a stunning recovery. She’s put on weight, thanks, as her mother recalls, to eating everything in sight for a while, but she’s still petite. Sweeting has also graduated high school and is hoping to start college soon.
“Our lives are so much better. We kind of put the Calvin trial in the back of our heads,” mother Elvis Morgan told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. “Now that this has come back up, oh my God…. She’s got to remember everything all over again.”
Sweeting may be asked to recount how she says she lived in Room 310 at the Extended Stay America on Jimmy Carter Boulevard in Gwinnett. She must recall the failed attempts to leave. The days without food. The fear. The lessons about Nuwaubian group, which authorities have long called a black supremacist cult that once had a secretive Egyptian-themed compound in Putnam County until the leader, Dwight York, went to prison for child molestation.
Sweeting also must be reminded of how desperately her mother and other relatives worked to find her.
Of course, thoughts of the other daughter she had with Mcintosh are welcome. The child, Florence, now 7, has been in state custody since police raided the hotel, despite Sweeting and Morgan’s efforts to bring her home.
“It’s been almost four years and she hasn’t seen her daughter and I haven’t seen my grand baby,” Morgan said. “My daughter is hurting so bad.”
Police raided the hotel room on Nov. 11, 2014, after Mcintosh took the 15-month-old girl, Alcenti, to a Sandy Springs hospital and told staff she wasn’t breathing, police have said. The baby weighed 7 pounds. A nurse said she looked like a skeleton and it was too late to save her.
When officers soon went to the room in Peachtree Corners, they found Sweeting, wrapped in blankets, gaunt, along with three living but malnourished children. Authorities have said two of those kids were the product of incest between Mcintosh and his daughter.
After four years of brutal memories, Sweeting and her family are ready to move on.
“We want it over with,” Morgan said.
THE STORY SO FAR
2010: Family tell DeKalb County police Iasia Sweeting, 18 at the time, was abducted, but investigators classify her as a runaway.
2014: Gwinnett County police find Sweeting starving in a Peachtree Corners hotel, along with three malnourished children, after Calvin Mcintosh brought a starved baby, which was his and Sweeting's, to a hospital. The baby died. Mcintosh is also accused of impregnating his 23-year-old daughter.
2015: Mcintosh is indicted on charges of murder, criminal attempt to commit murder, cruelty to children – first degree (four counts), aggravated battery, false imprisonment and incest.
2018: The trial for Mcintosh begins this week in Gwinnett County Superior Court.