Atlanta parents charged with murder in death of 7-week-old girl

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

Credit: Atlanta Police Department

The parents of a 7-week-old have been charged with murder after an autopsy determined the newborn died from inflicted trauma, Atlanta police said Monday.

On Aug. 10, officers were called to a Beecher Road home in southwest Atlanta because an infant was unresponsive, according to police. The baby girl, later identified as Journee Byrd, was taken to the hospital but did not survive. She lived less than two months, according to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office. Detectives noticed both bruising and scarring on the baby’s body, according to the police report.

“Further investigation revealed the child sustained injuries consistent with inflicted trauma,” police said in a social media post.

The baby is the city’s youngest homicide victim of the year, according to investigators.

Credit: Atlanta police

Credit: Atlanta police

On Aug. 18, investigators with the Atlanta police fugitive unit returned to the home to address the baby’s parents. Zion Kendrick Byrd, 23, and Deshan Turner, 20, were both arrested and charged with murder and cruelty to children, police said.

“Police officers respond to many types of calls, but arguably the most difficult are those where infants and children have been harmed or killed,” a social media post states. “When these and other crime atrocities happen, the response is always a relentless pursuit to identify the suspects, arrest them and ensure justice for the victim.”

After arriving at the home, Atlanta officers used a speaker to order the couple outside. Video released Monday shows Byrd and Turner, both handcuffed, being led from the home by officers. Turner spit out her cigarette before being placed into a patrol car. An officer removed Byrd’s cigarette from his mouth before searching him, the video shows.

“Do you want to talk to an investigator?” one officer asks Turner.

“What are we being arrested for?” Turner replied. “We didn’t do nothing.”

Byrd told officers he wanted to speak with his attorney.

In a GoFundMe page created by Turner before her arrest, the mother said she found her baby unresponsive in her crib. Her older daughter, not quite 2 years old, was taken into protective custody earlier the same day, she said.

“This whole process is very complicated for me and is an unimaginable pain,” Turner wrote. “My daughters changed the entire meaning of life for me. They gave me purpose. These funds would be used to help me with funeral costs and also to help me get my daughter back.”

On Tuesday, both Byrd and Turner remained in the Fulton County Jail, where they were being held without bond, booking records show.

Journee Byrd is the second child under the age of 1 allegedly killed this year, according to police.

On Jan. 24, 6-month-old Grayson Fleming-Gray was shot and killed while in his car seat as his mother drove in northwest Atlanta, according to police. Dequasie Little and Sharice Michelle Ingram were both arrested and charged with felony murder.

A third baby, 2-month-old Robert Kingston Williams, died Sept. 20, 2021. But toxicology testing delayed the death from being classified as a homicide. In July, his parents were arrested after the autopsy revealed the infant ingested cocaine before his death. Robert Williams, 41, and Makaylee Nevils, 24, were both charged with second-degree cruelty to children and second-degree murder.