Editor's note: This story has been updated to add a direct quote from the motion filed by the district attorney's office.
COVINGTON, Ga. – The parents accused of murder in the October death of 15-day-old Caliyah C. McNabb will be tried together after Alcovy Judicial Circuit Chief Judge John M. Ott approved the motion to join the trials filed by the state in court Thursday.
Christopher Michael McNabb is charged with eight counts including malice murder, two counts felony murder, murder in the second-degree and aggravated battery, cruelty to children in the first-degree, cruelty to children in the second-degree and concealing death of another.
Cortney Marie Bell is charged with murder in the second degree, cruelty to children and contributing to the deprivation of a minor.
McNabb is represented by Anthony Carter, chief public defender for the Alcovy Judicial Circuit. Bell is represented by Bryan Frost, who was appointed as a conflict attorney.
District Attorney Layla Zon argued the cases should be joined because there is no conflict between the defendants and neither suspect has implicated the other.
Zon said through multiple investigative interviews, nether Bell nor McNabb have claimed to have information about the other as it relates to the death of their daughter.
Cortney Bell alleges that on the night Caliyah went missing, her and Christopher McNabb smoked methamphetamine inside the trailer after putting Caliyah and Clarissa, their other child, to bed. Later that night, Caliyah woke up and was crying. Christopher McNabb got up to take care of the child at that time. The next morning when Cortney awoke, Caliyah was no longer in the home and was later found deceased.Motion for Joinder of Defendants for Trial
Frost raised the argument that the burden of proof for McNabb’s malice murder charge is different than that of Bell’s second-degree murder charge. He said the evidence presented for McNabb’s burden could cast his client in a negative light.
Zon said Bell’s charge of second-degree murder is based on negligence and improper care of the child.
According to the motion, provided to The Covington News by Zon, "Cortney Bell alleges that on the night Caliyah went missing, her and Christopher McNabb smoked methamphetamine inside the trailer after putting Caliyah and Clarissa, their other child, to bed. Later that night, Caliyah woke up and was crying. Christopher McNabb got up to take care of the child at that time. The next morning when Cortney awoke, Caliyah was no longer in the home and was later found deceased."
Ott granted the state's motion and said he believed the information from McNabb's case would come up during Bell's trial whether they were separated or not.
On Oct. 7, 2017, Bell called 911 to report her daughter was missing from her bedroom. The following day, the body of Caliyah C. McNabb was located in a wooded area next to the trailer park where the family lived.
McNabb was arrested a few hours after the discovery of the body on a probation violation out of Bartow County. Warrants were issued for McNabb on the murder charges three days later after autopsy results determined the cause of death to be blunt force head trauma and manner of death to be homicide.
Bell was indicted by the Grand Jury of Newton County in January and apprehended Jan. 7 in Rockdale County on charges related to the death.
The duo was arraigned on the charges Jan. 23 in front of Ott. Zon is prosecuting the case with Assistant District Attorney Alex Stone.