Judge grants new trial for woman accused in death of Claiborne County toddler

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PORT GIBSON, Miss. (WJTV) – A new trial has been granted for the woman accused of killing her 14-month-old stepdaughter in Claiborne County because one of the jurors failed to disclose he is related to the child’s mother.

According to District Attorney Danielle Shorter, a judge granted a new trial for T’Kia Bevily, but the gag order is still in place.

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Jurayah Smith

In February 2021, Bevily was sentenced to life without parole, days after a jury convicted her of capital murder for the October 2017 death of 14-month-old Jurayah Smith.

Bevily is in Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.

The toddler’s father, Morris Bevily, has also been charged with murder. His trial has been postponed.

Investigators said the toddler received multiple blunt-force injuries to her head and was killed while in custody of T’kia and Morris Bevily.

Bevily’s attorneys raised questions about the juror who is related to the victim’s mother, and they requested a new trial.

Claiborne County Circuit Judge Tomika Irving filed an order Tuesday 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 the dead toddler’s aunt. He was selected as a juror.

“Giving Juror No. 24 the benefit of doubt, if he did not know that the deceased child was his niece’s niece prior to her death, he more than likely learned of such relationship after the child’s death by way of living in a small community,” Irving wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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