Family cherishes capital murder conviction for slain toddler’s stepmother

Family cherishes capital murder conviction for slain toddler’s stepmother
14-month-old Jurayah Smith; Source: DeDreuna Smith, mother (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Dedreuna Smith of Port Gibson found her daughter Jurayah lifeless in her father’s home in October of 2017.

It’s a terrible memory. But she also has memories of the joy Jurayah brought her -- she loved to dance and sing, and she loved her family.

Smith scrolls through her phone, pointing out pictures of Jurayah smiling and waving and with her family, now forever 14 months old.

Smith won’t make any comment on T’Kia Bevily, Jurayah’s stepmother. Bevily was convicted of capital murder Friday in Jurayah’s death after investigators say the child had blunt force trauma in three places on her head.

But Smith knows what she’d say to Bevily, if they were face to face.

“You had a chance to say you didn’t want my daughter around, you had plenty enough time to say, ‘Come and get her,’” Smith said. “All I want to know is why? What was the reason when you could have just told me to come and get her?”

It’s been tough for Jurayah’s family as they waited first for an autopsy and charges, and then for justice.

“It’s been hard, I’ve been losing sleep, I’ve been having nightmares, but we got justice, so I’m going to be okay,” said Jurayah’s grandmother, Lolita Smith.

“This last three years, like I say, it’s been quite hell,” said Dedreuna Smith. “We’ve been fighting so long, and we didn’t know which way it was going to go. It’s been a struggle.”

Morris Bevily’s capital murder trial starts Monday. All the Smiths could say is that they will be relieved when it’s over as well. And Smith says she can’t wait to see Jurayah in Heaven.

“We got justice, baby girl,” she said. “That’s all we were waiting on. I’m going to dance with you as soon as I get to the grave.”

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