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T’Kia Bevily found not guilty of killing her 14-month-old stepdaughter, Jurayah Smith

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 3:07 PM CDT
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MONROE COUNTY, Miss. (WLBT) - A jury has found T’Kia Bevily not guilty of capital murder.

In October of 2017, the Claiborne County woman was accused of killing her 14-month-old stepdaughter, Jurayah Smith. Bevily is now absolved of her charge.

3 On Your Side reached out to the district attorney’s office for comment. They declined, saying they believe they are still under the court’s gag order at this time.

In an interview conducted hours after she was found not guilty, Dennis Sweet IV, one of her attorneys, stated, “she’s been innocent this whole time.” He said he was so happy he was almost at a loss for words.

“There’s going to be some more action coming,” said Sweet. “We are not done. We are going to continue to fight and we are going to continue to clear her name.”

Another of Bevily’s lawyers, Lawrence Blackmon, said it was one of the greatest honors of his career to represent Bevily, and that the fight for justice was hard. He said that Bevily had to sit through weeks of having her name and character “dragged through the mud.”

“I believe she was specifically called a murderer and a murder weapon today by the State of Mississippi, but the facts were just not there to support those accusations,” said Blackmon.

However, “when God is for you, no man or woman in suit or in robe can be against you...” Blackmon stated.

“When I heard Judge Irving say ‘not guilty,’ I was kind of in shock a little bit,” Bevily said as she stood between Sweet and Blackmon while donning a pale pink long-sleeved top and wearing a prominent cross necklace. “And then when it really hit me, I broke down.”

In describing the last few years, Bevily called them torturous. “It’s an unexplainable feeling to have two small children and not know if you’ll be there to watch them grow up...”

In January of 2021, T’Kia was found guilty of killing her stepdaughter and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

However, months later, in September of that same year, a judge overturned the conviction due to jury misconduct. Evidence came forward suggesting a juror was related to the victim.

As a result, Bevily’s attorneys asked for a change of venue because they didn’t think they’d get a fair trial in Claiborne County.

“I hate that it had to take us moving to a completely different county in a different part of the state for me to finally get my fair and impartial day in trial, but I am so thankful,” Bevily expressed. “I’m thankful to the citizens of Monroe County camera out only solve who came out only with the sole purpose to hear the fax and only the facts of the case and make the right decisions and make the right decision today.”

Jurayah’s father, Morris Bevily, who was also charged with capital murder, was supposed to stand trial in 2021 after T’Kia’s. So far, he has not gone to trial.

When asked what was next for her, Bevily said “we are moving somewhere,” causing her attorneys to laugh. “As soon as we are cleared,” she continued, “we are out of that part of Mississippi.”

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