A prosecutor said last week it was “rank neglect” that led to the death of a 19-month-old girl during the last four months of her life after being returned from foster care to her parents.
Deputy District Attorney General Dennis Brooks made the comment during a preliminary hearing last week for the child’s parents.
Sapora D. Walton, 20, and Jeremiah T. Crater, 22, both of 293 Austin Springs Road were arrested in December 2020 on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse/neglect of their daughter, Samiah.
“This child was so malnourished by these defendants that the child was eating its body to survive. I cannot imagine the profound neglect that led to this child dying being any greater than those numbers and what they represent.”
The numbers Brooks referred to was the weights listed in the autopsy of Samiah’s internal organs. When the parents were arrested in December, officials described Samiah as emaciated.
“The pathologist estimated she was under the first percentile, which means out of a hundred kids she would be last,” he said.
When the girl was returned to her parents, she was in the 50th percentile, “pretty much average,” he said.
“Then she goes back to these parents and boom, she falls off the edge.”
The heart weighed at 30.6 grams. It should have (been) 56 (grams). Her heart was half the size it should have been for her age.”
Brooks went on to say there were similar findings with Samiah’s lungs, kidneys and liver.
“The brain probably took it the best. It was 804 grams and should have been 1,050 grams,” Brooks said. “There were a litany of injuries to this child top to bottom but also severe malnutrition.”
There was no evidence presented to indicate anyone had seen Samiah for close to two months prior to her death.
“From all accounts Samiah was born a healthy full-term baby. That’s the testimony of everyone involved and she was growing as she should ... until this child was returned to the two defendants here today.
“When they say, ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words,’ these pictures give new meaning to that. This child was a happy, healthy, little 19-month-old baby girl until she was left in their care. Then in a very short period of time … it may be circumstantial, but it’s damn good circumstantial evidence that these defendants tortured and starved this child,” Brooks said.
Crater’s attorney, Grace Sluder, and Walton’s attorney, Scott Shults, did not present any evidence.
General Sessions Court Judge Janet Hardin bound the case over to a grand jury.
Walton and Crater will appear in Criminal Court next month.