Couple accused in 3-year-old’s death scheduled for court
A father and stepmother accused in the April 2 death of a 3-year-old girl are scheduled to appear in court before a Miller County circuit judge in late May.
Everette Cawley, 23, and McKenna Belcher Cawley, 27, were both listed Tuesday on Circuit Judge Carlton Jones’ docket but did not appear because prosecutors have not yet filed formal charges in connection with the death of McKinley Cawley and the alleged physical abuse of her 2-year-old brother.
Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett said her office has not received an investigative file from law enforcement. Barrett said the Texarkana, Ark., Police Department is conducting an extremely thorough investigation because McKenna Cawley is facing a capital murder charge for which the state could seek a death sentence.
McKenna Cawley is being held in the Miller County jail without bail on the capital murder charge and on a charge of domestic battery for allegedly abusing McKinley’s 2-year-old brother. Everette Cawley is charged with two counts of permitting the abuse of a minor and is being held on a $1 million bail.
The couple has one child together, an infant daughter born Jan. 30, who is currently in the custody of Arkansas child welfare authorities.
Everette Cawley brought McKinley to a local emergency room at about 4:30 a.m. April 2, according toa probable cause affidavit. Hospital staff immediately suspected child abuse caused the severe blunt force injuries noted on the child and contacted police.
Everette Cawley allegedly told investigators that McKenna Cawley kicked and beat McKinley with a wooden slat from a bed. Investigators seized a pair of steel toe boots belonging to McKenna Cawley and noted there were clumps of hair discovered in the couple’s Texarkana, Ark., duplex when it was searched and clumps of hair found in McKinley’s underwear.
McKinley’s head had been shaved when she arrived at the hospital and investigators theorized this was done to hide that clumps of her hair had been ripped from her head.
Barrett said that once her office has received a file from Texarkana, Ark., detectives detailing the investigation, an information formally charging both defendants will be filed and a judge will schedule the case for trial after they have appeared in court.
Everette Cawley faces five to 20 years if convicted of permitting the abuse of a minor resulting in death and up to six years in prison if convicted of permitting the abuse of a minor resulting in injury.
McKenna Cawley faces five to 20 years in prison if convicted of domestic battery involving Everette Cawley’s 2-year-old son. If found guilty of capital murder, she faces life in prison without the possibility of parole or death by lethal injection.