Second trial begins for Mississippi woman accused of killing 14-month-old stepdaughter. First trial ended with conviction later overturned by judge.

Published 5:39 am Tuesday, May 3, 2022

A jury was selected Monday in the second trial of a Mississippi woman who is accused of killing her 14-month-old stepdaughter in 2017.

T’Kia Bevily is charged with killing 14-month-old Jurayah Smith. She’s facing a capital murder charge. The new trial began Monday in Monroe County.

In January 2021, a Claiborne County jury convicted T’Kia Bevily of capital murder in the October 2017 death. Investigators said the toddler died from blunt-force injuries to her head while in custody of her father and stepmother.

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Bevily was sentenced to life in prison without parole, after the district attorney decided not to seek the death penalty.

That sentence was vacated in September 2021, when Claiborne County Circuit Judge Tomika Irving filed an order to grant Bevily a new trial. Court records show that during jury selection, a man failed to disclose that he is the uncle of the dead toddler’s aunt. He was selected as a juror.

Bevily’s lawyers later asked for a change of venue because they didn’t believe they’d get a fair trial in Claiborne County. As a result, the trial was moved nearly four hours away to Monroe County.

Trial resumes with opening arguments on Tuesday.