HOUSTON - It's a case that touched people all across the country, when 4-year-old Maleah Davis went missing and was found dead.
On Monday, the child's parents were in a Harris County civil court in front of Judge Gloria Lopez in a fight for custody of Maleah's older brother.
Just before Maleah died, she was at the center of a custody battle. In Texas, custody can be decided by a judge or a jury. This time, a jury will decide.
Little Maleah was in the care of CPS after she suffered a traumatic brain injury in August 2018. Judge Gloria Lopez was widely criticized after the 4-year-old was returned home to her mother Brittany Bowens and mother’s fiancé Derion Vence last February.
A few months later, Maleah is seen entering their Houston apartment and never walking out. Instead, on May 3, Vence is on surveillance video carrying out a trash bag in a laundry basket and he tells police Maleah was abducted.
Then Vence reveals he dumped the 4-year-old’s body along an Arkansas highway where she was indeed found dead. Vence is in jail charged with Serious Bodily Injury to a Child and Tampering with a Corpse.
According to court records, he hit the 4-year-old with his hand and a blunt object, knocking her to the floor and ultimately restricting her airway.
In this court proceeding, Maleah’s biological father Craig Davis Jr., Maleah’s mom, and maternal grandmom Brenda Bowens are all seeking custody of Maleah’s older brother.
A jury was selected on Monday. Testimony in the trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Judge Lopez has once again issued a gag order, restricting attorneys and family members from speaking about the case publicly.