ABERDEEN, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi woman has been found not guilty in the killing of her 14-month-old stepdaughter.
A Monroe County jury on Friday acquitted T’Kia Bevily. It was her second trial in the 2017 death of Jurayah Smith in Claiborne County.
A Claiborne County jury convicted Bevily of capital murder in January 2021. Her defense attorneys then raised questions about a juror who is related to the victim’s mother.
In September, a judge granted Bevily a new trial and a change of venue. Monroe County is about 225 miles (362.10 kilometers) northeast of Claiborne County.
Bevily and two of her attorneys spoke to WLBT-TV after the verdict Friday.
“She’s been innocent this whole time," said attorney Dennis Sweet IV.
Bevily said she broke down after hearing Circuit Judge Tomika Harris-Irving say jurors had found her not guilty. She said the past few years have been torturous.
“It’s an unexplainable feeling to have two small children and not know if you’ll be there to watch them grow up," Bevily said.
Another of her attorneys, Lawrence Blackmon, said Bevily had to endure unfair attacks on her character.
“When God is for you, no man or woman in suit or in robe can be against you," Blackmon said.
Jurayah’s father, Morris Bevily IV, also was charged with capital murder. He has pleaded not guilty and has not yet gone to trial.