She was wearing a purple onesie that read, “Stay away boys, my daddy works out,” and a men’s tank top had been placed over the head of little Caliyah McNabb. But even before conducting the autopsy, a GBI doctor could tell how the 2-week-old Newton County baby had been injured, the doctor testified Wednesday.
“The head was enlarged visually,” Lora Darrisaw, a forensic pathologist, told the court. “By feeling the head, it was very soft and by feeling it you could tell there were already broken bones.”
The autopsy revealed Caliyah had multiple skull fractures, and some bones in her head were held together by only soft tissue, Darrisaw said. The newborn’s injuries were caused by “very, very significant force” from either being crushed or from multiple impacts, she said. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head and the manner was homicide, according to Darrisaw.
While pictures from the autopsy were shown in court, Caliyah’s parents held their heads down and wept. Christopher McNabb and Cortney Bell, the baby’s parents, are both accused in her death. Wednesday was the third day of the couple’s trial.
Wednesday afternoon, jurors left the courthouse to view the mobile home park where Caliyah lived, as well as the area where investigators found her tiny body after she died. Jurors, accompanied by deputies, traveled the 6 miles by vans into the community where Caliyah lived with her parents and her 2-year-old sister.
Bell called 911 on Oct. 7, 2017, to report the newborn missing. When deputies responded, Bell was alone in the trailer with the couple’s older daughter. McNabb showed up later looking disheveled and acting fidgety, a deputy testified on Tuesday.
Jurors also saw the spot in the woods where Caliyah’s remains were discovered the day after she was reported missing. Her 5-pound body was found inside a Nike drawstring bag that had been placed under sticks, investigators said. Searchers found the bag about 900 yards from the family’s home.
Both McNabb and Bell were in a car with relatives driving to the mobile home park when they learned Caliyah’s body had been found. McNabb then jumped out of the car and ran, but was later located at a nearby convenience store and arrested on a probation violation.
Investigators believe McNabb killed the baby, but have not stated a motive. Prosecutors contend Bell was negligent in not ensuring Caliyah’s safety. The two have said they were asleep and their 2-year-old alerted them that the baby was missing.
McNabb was charged with Caliyah’s murder days after her body was found. In January 2018, a grand jury indicted him on eight counts, including malice murder, felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another. The grand jury indicted Bell on second-degree murder, child cruelty and child deprivation charges. The trial for the two began Monday.
Bell’s family members have testified that she and McNabb had a violent relationship and used drugs. The two admitted to investigators they’d smoked meth the night before Caliyah was reported missing.
Defense attorneys argue there is no evidence that McNabb and Bell were responsible for the baby’s death.
The trial will resume Thursday morning.
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