NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A Newton County jury only took about an hour Tuesday before finding a couple guilty of murdering their infant daughter before reporting her missing the next day.
The jury convicted Courtney Marie Bell and Christopher McNabb of smoking meth before they killed their 15-day-old daughter, Caliyah, in 2017.
At his sentencing, McNabb still maintained the innocence to Superior Court Judge John Ott who sentenced him to life in prison without parole plus 10 years.
During her sentencing, Bell broke down and said, “Y’all know I didn’t do this.”
But the judge told Bell her actions “flies in the face of what any mother would do” by using drugs.
Bell told the judge, “It’s a sickness but I tried to be a good mama.”
Judge Ott sentenced her to 30 years in prison with 15 years to serve, plus another 10-year sentence to serve concurrently.
During closing arguments, defense attorney Anthony Carter, who represents McNabb, said, "Probably the worst thing that could happen to Chris is that he loses his child and then he goes to prison for killing his child when he didn't do it."
Defense attorneys told the jury that they may not like the tattoos covering McNabb’s face, the fact that McNabb beat Bell, or the fact that the couple used drugs, but that doesn’t make them guilty of murder.
Defense attorney Brian Frost, who represents Bell, said: "Nothing my client did caused that death. All of you know what caused that child's death. That's nothing my client did or could've prevented."
The defense argued someone came into the couple’s mobile home on the morning of October 7th, 2017 while they slept and took the girl and the bag belonging to McNabb that the child’s body was found in.
But prosecutors painted a different picture.
District Attorney Layla Zon said, “All this fake crying and fake tears he did during the interviews about how much he loved his children and that he did in the courtroom are a joke."
Zon told jurors all of the evidence pointed to McNabb as the killer. The prosecutor added while the state doesn’t believe Bell physically murdered her child, they believe her negligence contributed to the child’s death.
Zon argued McNabb was manipulative and didn’t love Bell or Caliyah.
Zon said, "That child didn't do anything but need love, and her daddy killed her."
The jury began deliberations shortly after 3 p.m. and returned the verdict after 4 p.m.
The judge immediately went to the sentencing phases.
McNabb was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, plus 10 years, to be served consecutively.