A Mississippi woman has been convicted of capital murder in the beating death of her 14-month stepdaughter -- and her husband will face trial this week.
T'Kia Bevily, 28, was convicted last Friday of the October 2017 death of Jurayah Smith in Claiborne County, Mississippi. According to the Clarion Ledger, jurors returned their verdict after hearing five days of testimony.
Bevily is married to Juraya's father, 30-year-old Morris Bevily IV. The couple was taking care of Jurayah when she died on Oct. 22, 2017, authorities said. Her death was later ruled a homicide due to multiple blunt force traumas to her head.
Claiborne County Sheriff Department
According to police, Jurayah was found dead by her mother, DeDreuna Smith, when she came to pick up the toddler.
"I could not be prouder of my prosecution team which brought Jurayah's murderer to justice," District Attorney Daniella Shorter told WAPT-TV after the verdict. "Now Jurayah's family can finally have some peace knowing that T'Kia Bevily will be in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections."
With Bevily convicted, prosecutors are now turning their attention to the girl's father. Morris Bevily's trial begins on Monday. He is also charged with capital murder. He has pleaded not guilty. He faces trial this week.
DeDreuna Smith released a statement after the verdict, thanking prosecutors and saying that her family will begin the healing process.
"Knowing that the person responsible for the homicide of my precious Jurayah is being held accountable for their actions brings a feeling of relief over my whole family," Smith said in the statement.
She continued: "Receiving this guilty verdict is only the start of the healing process for my family, our friends, loved ones & myself. We're grateful for the outcome and we're hopeful for the peaceful closure that this process has brought."