A Georgia couple has been convicted of murdering their infant daughter while high on methamphetamine and then reporting her missing the next day.
According to Fox5Atlanta, a Newton County jury took all of one hour this past Tuesday, May 15, to find Cortney Marie Bell and Christopher McNabb guilty of killing their 15-day-old daughter, Caliyah, in October 2017.
Bell called 911 on October 7, 2017, to report Caliyah missing and told the operator that she had been woken up by her two-year-old daughter at 10.30 that morning and found the infant nowhere despite searching her house high and low. McNabb told investigators he had fed her just an hour before she went missing.
In the day after her disappearance, he even made appearances on television and made emotional pleas for his daughter to be returned safely to him, telling media, "I want my kid back, man. That's my child man. I want my kid!"
But that same afternoon, after a search, Caliyah's dead body was found inside a Nike drawstring bag in the woods just 900 yards from McNabb's and Bell's trailer. The pair heard the news while they were heading back home in a relative's car.
McNabb reportedly reacted by jumping out of the car at a red light and running in the opposite direction. He was eventually tracked down to a nearby gas station and arrested on a probation violation warrant. A few days later, he was charged with murder.
An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations found Caliyah had suffered excessive bruising and disfiguration. Injuries observed on her skull were determined to be consistent with a blunt object or crushing injury. The manner of death was ruled as a homicide.
AJC reported that McNabb was subsequently indicted on eight counts, including malice murder, felony murder, second-degree murder, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another. Bell, not initially charged, was indicted by the grand jury on second-degree murder, child cruelty and child deprivation charges.
Their trial, which began earlier this month, saw the prosecution call more than 20 witnesses to testify against the couple, including Bell's relative Craig Weatherford, who told the court he smoked meth with them the night before Caliyah's disappearance. He also revealed that Bell was desperate to smoke more meth the next day as search parties were being brought together to search for her daughter.
The jury disregarded the defense's argument that the pair were innocent and that someone came into the couple’s mobile home on the morning of Caliyah's disappearance and took her away, and convicted them of their charges after a short deliberation.
McNabb continued to maintain his innocence as Superior Court Judge John Ott sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 10 years. As Bell broke down during her sentencing, insisting, "Y'all know I didn't do this," Ott chastized her and told her her actions "flies in the face of what any mother would do." He sentenced her to 30 years in prison with 15 years to serve, plus another 10-year sentence to be served concurrently.