Day 8: Doctors say Jurayah Smith’s manner of death was not homicide; prosecutors disagree

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 9:39 PM CDT
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MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - Wednesday was Day 8 in the capital murder trial for T’Kia Bevily.

The Claiborne County woman is charged with capital murder in the death of her 14-month-old stepdaughter, Jurayah Smith.

Prosecutors spent the past seven days calling their witnesses to the stand and presenting their case.

On Wednesday, it was the defense’s turn.

Defense attorneys called two witnesses to the stand to testify.

Both medical experts, both doctors, both saying they don’t believe Jurayah’s cause of death is multiple blunt force trauma to the head, and they don’t believe the manner of death is a homicide.

Dr. Peter Dehnel, who’s a pediatrician, and Dr. William Truly, who’s a family and emergency medicine specialist and also the Mayor of Canton, both gave similar opinions.

Dr. Dehnel stated that through photos and evidence he’s looked at, and based on Jurayah’s external appearance when she died, he does not believe there were any significant internal head injuries that led to her death.

Medical experts point out that Jurayah did have a linear skull fracture and they believe she got it at least 14 days before the day she died.

However, witnesses and medical experts expressed they don’t think that played a role in her death.

While on stand, Dr. Truly testified that medical records and photos he’s obtained do not indicate Jurayah was abused or neglected, and he believes the manner of her death is undetermined.

Prosecutors disagree. They point out that Truly and Dehnel are the only ones with that opinion, and that four other medical experts stated multiple blunt force trauma to the head was the cause of death and homicide is the manner.

District Attorney Daniella Shorter pointed to a video on October 21st, where 14-month-old Jurayah could be seen walking and appearing to be “fine,” according to those who were with her.

The DA argued the video is evidence the head injuries came afterwards when Jurayah made it home in the care of the defendant, T’Kia Bevily, and her husband Morris Bevily, the child’s father.

In court, Shorter said Jurayah wouldn’t have been able to walk and be herself, as shown in the video with those injuries.

But, Dr. Truly testified that there is no way he could tell with confidence whether Jurayah had received a head injury at that time just by looking at the video.

Defense attorneys are expected to call Dr. Stephen Godfrey, an anatomical pathologist, to the stand as their next witness. Court is in recess until 9 o’clock Thursday morning.

Previous Coverage:

Day 5: Jurayah Smith’s great aunt called as a witness
Day 4: Jurayah Smith’s mother takes the stand
Day 3: Request for mistrial denied in T’Kia Bevily murder trial
Day 2: Tempers flare as testimony begins in T’kia Bevily murder trial
Trial begins for T’Kia Bevily, accused of killing 14-month-old stepdaughter

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