Mother of toddler killed in Claiborne County wants new judge in trial of child’s stepmother

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CLAIBORNE COUNTY, Miss. (WJTV) – In early October, the stepmother who was convicted of killing her 14-month-old stepdaughter was released on bond after she was granted a retrial.

The family of the Jurayah Smith spoke out against the Claiborne County judge who tried the case. The family accused Judge Tomika Irving of being biased in the case of T’Kia Bevily. They believe the judge may have had a personal connection to the Bevily family, inhibiting her ability to fairly try the case.

After serving eight months of a life sentenced, Bevily was released on bond.

Dedreuna Smith, who is the mother of Jurayah, said, “I do not feel like that’s fair at all, but that’s another thing with the judge.”

Smith said she recently discovered that Irving had a personal relationship with the Bevily family.

“The judge was supposed to recuse herself from this case because she knew Mr. Bevily, Mr. Morris’s father. That’s a conflict of interest right there,” she claimed.

Jurayah’s family said the judge and the Bevily family attended the same church.

Bevily was granted a new trial in September 2021 because one of the jurors failed to disclose he is related to the Jurayah Smith’s mother.

“I feel like they were looking for anything to give this girl a retrial, and they did,” said Smith.

Family members of Jurayah believe the relationship between the judge and the Bevily family caused her to be lenient with the case.

“It hurts my feelings because I feel like Jurayah’s life didn’t matter; that all they care about was T’Kia. What about Jurayah? She’s the one that’s not here, and we want justice,” said Smith.

The family also believes the relationship between the judge and the Bevily family is the reason Morris Bevily, the father of Jurayah, does not have a scheduled trial date.

12 News reached out Irving. She has not been able to comment at this time.

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