COVINGTON — A man convicted of killing his 2-week-old daughter has been denied a new trial by the Georgia Supreme Court.
Christopher McNabb was convicted in May 2019 on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, cruelty to children and concealing the death of another in connection with the death of Caliyah McNabb. The child’s mother, Cortney Bell, was also convicted at the pair’s joint trial on charges of second degree murder, cruelty to children and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. However, the Supreme Court in February overturned the charges of second degree murder and cruelty to children.
McNabb’s appeal for a new trial was based on his assertion that the evidence against him was insufficient and that his trial attorney provided ineffective representation — specifically that his attorney should have objected to evidence of McNabb’s drug use, of his prior incidents of physical abuse and the fact that Bell is his first cousin. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected McNabb’s appeal.
McNabb and Bell were arrested in 2017 after they reported that they woke up on the morning of Oct. 7 to find the baby missing from their home in the Eagle Ridge mobile home park on Ga. Highway 36. The child’s body was found hidden under a log in nearby woods the next day.
An autopsy showed that the baby died of blunt force trauma to the head.
In May 2019 a Newton County jury convicted both parents. McNabb was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole.
Bell was initially sentenced to 30 years, with 15 to be served in prison and 15 on probation for the second degree murder and cruelty to children charges. She was sentenced to another 10 years of confinement to run concurrently to the other charges for contributing to the dependency of a minor.
In reversing the second degree murder conviction, the Court of Appeals found that “there was no evidence presented that Bell directly caused the victim cruel and excessive pain by inflicting blunt force trauma to her head; caused someone else to commit the act; aided or abetted in the act; or that she advised, encouraged, hired, counseled or procured someone to commit the act….”
Furthermore, the court found that since evidence to convict Bell of second degree murder was insufficient, evidence to convict her of cruelty to children was also insufficient.