Father pleads not guilty to accomplice capital murder in daughter’s death

Everette Cawley, 24, and his wife, McKenna Belcher, 27, appear in a Miller County courtroom April 5, 2019

A Texarkana father accused of allowing his wife to beat his 3-year-old daughter to death pleaded not guilty at a hearing Tuesday in Miller County circuit court.

Everette John Cawley, 24, appeared before Circuit Judge Brent Haltom for arraignment on amended charges Tuesday. Everette Cawley’s wife, McKenna Faith Belcher, 27, is charged with capital murder in the April 2 death of McKinley Cawley.

McKinley Cawley died April 2 at a Little Rock hospital of traumatic head injuries, according to a probable cause affidavit. The girl allegedly suffered a severe physical beating at Belcher’s hands and Everette Cawley allegedly failed to intervene to protect his child from a previous relationship.

Everette Cawley is also accused of failing to protect his son, one year younger than McKinley. He is facing two charges of permitting the abuse of a minor and with accomplice to capital murder. The permitting abuse charges are punishable by up to six years in prison. Accomplice to capital murder is punishable by death or life without parole.

Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett said the state has not announced whether it will seek a death penalty sentence for Everette Cawley. Barrett said the state is seeking the death penalty for Belcher.

McKinley’s brother and Belcher and Everette Cawley’s daughter, who was just a few months old when McKinley died, were taken into state custody when Everette Cawley and Belcher were arrested in April 2019.

Both Belcher and Everette Cawley are being held in the Miller County jail.

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