COVINGTON, Ga. — The second day of the murder trial against Christopher McNabb and Cortney Bell featured some contentious moments early Wednesday as a Newton County Sheriff's Office investigator took the stand and detailed much of the evidence in the case.
The couple is facing multiple charges, including murder, in connection with the 2017 death of two-week-old daughter Caliyah McNabb.
Prosecutors questioned the usefulness of DNA and fingerprint evidence, given the activity inside the trailer where the child went missing on the day she disappeared. The defense attorneys challenged the investigation process and an apparent lack of analysis of much of the key evidence, prompting an investigator to admit that "some things were overlooked."
Cpl. Mickey Kitchens, a crime scene investigator in the sheriff's office, explained that because there were so many people going in and out of the mobile home on Oct. 7, 2017 - from family and friends searching for Caliyah to law enforcement officers conducting a search - that just about all evidence inside the trailer would be compromised.
"There were so many people going in and out, I explained before, they changed the dynamics," he said. "So many searching, it would compromise any evidence that would have been there - fingerprints disturbed, rendered useless, unidentifiable. Any kind of DNA would have been not been useful."
He also reviewed photographs of the home, particularly its entry points, and noted that none of the doors or windows showed evidence of a forced entry that morning, including the window leading to the room where Caliyah was sleeping.
Little Caliyah McNabb was born prematurely in late September 2017 and weighed only 5 pounds at birth.
Two weeks later, her mother, Cortney Bell frantically called 911 to report her daughter missing. Bell said she had fed the infant at about 5 a.m., but by 10:30 a.m., the baby was gone.
Anthony Carter, McNabb's defense attorney, challenged Kitchens about why much of the evidence was never sent to state crime labs for analysis.
He said "the whole sheriff's department thought Chris McNabb did it from the very beginning so you didn't check these theories," by examining the evidence to see if it could exonerate Caliyah's father.
The evidence included bloody garments that were in the bag that contained Caliyah's body.
"Just assuming that since you don't see anything in the trailer that the crime did not occur there, and not looking for another scene, those were things that were overlooked and should have been done to determine for sure who did this?" he asked Kitchens.
"Some things were overlooked, yes," Kitchens responded. "And like I said, we're all human and we all miss some things. I am by no means, by any stretch of the imagination, am I perfect."
The prosecution also alluded to an interview Christopher McNabb did at some point with police, during which he apparently admitted to having brought a camouflage jacket and drug paraphernalia into the woods, where they were found near Caliyah's body and treated as evidence. However, it's still not clear what McNabb said about when those objects were place there.
Attorneys met for roughly an hour with Judge John Ott in his chambers, which delayed the resumption of the trial past its original 9 a.m. start time. It wasn't clear what they met about.
The trial proceeded shortly after 10 a.m.
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