Category Archives: Malnourished

After 2015 Sexual Assault, Murder Of Jourdin A’Legacy Smith, Justice Served

.jpg photo of father of child who was murdered
Jamarkus Smith, 31, was found guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.

Parents sent to prison in 2015 Fayetteville slaying, sex assault of 3-year-old daughter

Cumberland County, NC  –  A Fayetteville mother and father were sent to prison Monday for the 2015 sexual abuse and death of their malnourished 3-year-old daughter.

After a week of testimony and just over four hours of deliberation, a Cumberland County jury found Jamarkus Smith, 31, guilty of first-degree murder, taking indecent liberties with a child, intentional child abuse inflicting serious injury, felonious child abuse and two counts of sex offense with a child by an adult in the death of his daughter, Jourdin A’Legacy Smith.

.jpg photo of mother of child who was murdered
Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.

Jourdin’s mother and Smith’s wife, Octavia Bennett-Smith, 32, a former Fort Bragg Army sergeant, pleaded guilty in December 2019.

Testimony in Smith’s trial began July 19, with closing arguments on Friday.

Following the jury verdict, Smith professed his innocence when he addressed the court before sentencing.

“I showed them I was innocent,” he said.  “They know I’m innocent, and you know I’m innocent.  Everybody here knows.  How is that right?  At what point is the legal system about justice?”

No statements were made on behalf of Jourdin before Judge Claire Hill sentenced Smith to life imprisonment for the murder and a combined 25 to 35 years for the other charges. He will also be required to register as a sex offender for life.

Smith’s attorney, Kris Poppe, said his client plans to appeal the verdict.

As Smith was escorted from the courtroom Monday, he turned to two women in the gallery who appeared to be there on his behalf and said, “I didn’t do it.”

“I know you didn’t baby,” one of the women said.  “He didn’t do that.  I don’t care what nobody says.  He didn’t do it.”

According to the child’s autopsy report, the cause of death was pneumonia in the setting of malnutrition, neglect and sexual abuse.   She weighed just 28 pounds at the time of her death, and her body and genitals were riddled with lacerations and contusions, the report said.

Bennett-Smith’s sentencing came some 30 minutes after her husband’s.

Her defense attorney, Antonio Gerald, called Jourdin’s death a tragedy.

Gerald said that Bennett-Smith accepted responsibility for her role in Jourdin’s death and “agreed to testify and assist in any way to help bring justice for Jourdin.”

Bennett-Smith did not speak during the hearing but cried as she was sentenced to a minimum term 10 years, five months, and a maximum of 13 years, six months for the second-degree murder charge.

The judge declined Gerald’s request for a consolidated sentence and instead stacked the sentence for the other charges.

For the child abuse and sexual assault charges, she received a consecutive minimum sentence of four years, four months, and a maximum of more than 10 years in prison.  She will be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years after release.

The judge also recommended a psychological evaluation for Bennett-Smith.

Gerald said that the court heard during her testimony at Smith’s trial that she was also a victim of assault as a child.

“These are not excuses for her actions of what she has pled guilty to, but only to shed some light as to what may have led her to be in this courtroom today,” he said.

Child Malnourished And Kept In Crate

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Child was malnourished and kept in a wooden crate.

Preliminary hearing held for 4 people
charged with child abuse in
Stone County, Missouri

STONE COUNTY, MO  –  A preliminary hearing was held on Tuesday for four people charged for child abuse back in November.

Dessa A. Barton, 26, W. Dalton McLendon, 26, Kathreine Kost, 56, and Richard A Hilliker, 52, pleaded not guilty to their charges.  Each face charges of endangering the welfare of a child and child abuse.

In a hearing that lasted more than three hours, the Stone County Prosecuting Attorney presented various pieces of evidence and called multiple witnesses to the stand.  Among witnesses were Stone County detectives as well as the ex-boyfriend of Dessa Barton, who is the mother of the child.

Detectives said the then 4-year-old boy suffered from extreme malnutrition.  They also said the young boy spent extended periods of time in a wooden crate constructed of pallets.

On Tuesday Stone County Prosecutor Matt Selby showed a number of photos taken during a search of the home.

Photos showed the crate itself, a make-shift door for the crate as well as blankets and children’s clothing.  During testimonies, detectives said Dalton McLendon previously denied using the crate for the child, instead they say McLendon said it was used for a dog.

Detectives who gave testimony also said McLendon admitted to spanking the boy and sometimes using a belt on him.  Among the photos shared by Selby was a photo of a belt, which detectives described as “the belt.”

“[McLendon said the child] had this problem where he would pee himself,” Stone County detective Matthew Maggard said.

Maggard also said McLendon told him he had issues trying to get the boy to play with him.

“Dalton said he tried to play with [the child] but he never wanted to play with him because he seemed like a standoff child,” Maggard said in his testimony.

Selby also presented phone records between a few of the four.  All four were present during the hearing, but a few of the defense attorneys said some of the evidence did not pertain to each individuals case.

Detectives had also testified that medical personnel told them the child’s injuries were consistent with physical abuse.  One detective said the boy was quite skinny when they saw him.

One investigator who gave testimony said Barton told detectives in an interview that she did not know how her son had hurt himself.  They said Barton said she believed her son was causing self harm.  Detectives said she told them she thought her son need more psychiatric help than medical attention.

Investigators initially received a 911 call on November 6 about the child being unresponsive in a Billings home.  Emergency crews transported the him to a Springfield hospital, then airlifted him to a Kansas City hospital.