Stepmother sentenced to life in prison over death of 14-month-old

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, February 4, 2021

A Mississippi woman was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after being convicted of capital murder in the death of 14-month-old stepdaughter.

T’Kia Bevily was sentenced after District Attorney Daniella Shorter’s decision not to seek the death penalty.

Bevily was convicted of capital murder for the October 2017 death of 14-month-old Jurayah Smith.

Bevily is Smith’s stepdaughter. The toddler’s father, Morris Bevily, is also charged with murder and was originally scheduled to stand trial this week, but that did not happen.

Morris and T’Kia Bevily were charged with the murder in 2019.

During the five-day-long trial in Claiborne County, evidence was presented that showed the baby sustained multiple “blunt-force trauma” injuries to her head, resulting in her death.

According to Claiborne County’s District Attorney Daniella Shorter, these injuries occurred while the child was in the sole custody of the defendants, T’Kia and Morris Bevily, the baby’s father.

“I could not be prouder of my prosecution team which brought Jurayah’s murderer to justice,” Shorter said. “Now Jurayah’s family can finally have some peace knowing that T’Kia Bevily will be in the custody of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.”

As of Friday, a date had not been set for T’Kia Bevily’s sentencing.

Jurayah was killed on Oct. 22, 2017, and her death was ruled a homicide.

The child’s mother, DeDreuna Smith released the following statement after Friday’s verdict:

“I’d like to thank God, along with the District Attorney & the state of Mississippi for pursuing Justice on behalf of my 14-month-old daughter. Knowing that the person responsible for the homicide of my precious Jurayah is being held accountable for their actions brings a feeling of relief over my whole family. Receiving this guilty verdict is only the start of the healing process for my family, our friends, loved ones & myself. We’re grateful for the outcome and we’re hopeful for the peaceful closure that this process has brought.”