An Arkansas woman has been charged with capital murder in the April 2 death of her husband's 3-year-old daughter.
McKenna Faith Belcher, 26, is also facing a charge of domestic battery in connection with injuries she allegedly inflicted on her 2-year-old stepson.
Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett, who serves Miller and Lafayette counties, filed formal charges Tuesday against Belcher. Barrett filed formal charges Tuesday as well against the children's father, Everette Cawley, 23. He faces two counts of permitting the abuse of a minor.
McKinley Cawley died of blunt force injuries April 2, hours after her father ran through the emergency room doors of a Texarkana hospital carrying her unconscious body. The injured child was airlifted to Arkansas Children's Hospital in Little Rock, where she died less than 12 hours later.
Hospital staff immediately suspected abuse was to blame for the child's dire medical condition and contacted police when she was brought for treatment at about 4:30 a.m. April 2. McKinley's suffering included a traumatic brain injury and "excessive bruising to the face and torso which is far beyond any over-active child and patterned to suggest use of a rigid object," the affidavit states.
Also noted by hospital staff were lacerations to the 3-year-old's kidneys and pancreas "caused by extreme high-force events" and cuts and bruises to both sides of the young girl's lungs "caused by a shearing mechanism, which would suggest the victim sustained blunt force blows/slams to a flat surface."
McKinley's head was shaved and doctors theorized that this was done to conceal that the girl was missing hair "that appeared to have been removed by force," the affidavit states.
The affidavit states that McKinley's elevated liver-function tests could have been caused by a prolonged period of oxygen deprivation and impaired circulation, and that there was likely some delay in seeking medical care for the seriously injured child. When the girl was admitted to Arkansas Children's, she required a chest tube and doctors expressed pessimism regarding her chances of survival, given that she'd gone without oxygen for a substantial amount of time.
Because the couple and the other two children were living in a Texarkana duplex in the 3800 block of Linden Street, that city's police department is conducting the investigation. External injuries similar to those seen on McKinley were found on the 2-year-old boy's face, torso and legs, which doctors hypothesized they were caused by a "blunt type instrument/object" and are described as bruising all along his face and limbs.
The couple's infant was in need of medical attention as well. The girl had a severe yeast infection "under her neck skin fold," which was bleeding at the time she was taken into state custody.
Belcher allegedly threw, kicked, stomped and beat McKinley in the days and hours before her death while her father allegedly failed to protect her, according to authorities.
Belcher's case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson. Cawley's has been assigned to Circuit Judge Brent Haltom. Both husband and wife are expected to appear in court for arraignment in June.
Belcher is being held without bond. Cawley's bail is set at $1 million.