The capital murder trial of Oren Lewis, who is accused of fatally abusing his toddler daughter, is scheduled to begin Tuesday after it was postponed last month.
In May 2015, a Hancock County grand jury indicted Lewis, now 34, on one count of capital murder. He is accused of severely abusing his 23-month-old daughter, Ma’Leah Grace Bush, on Aug. 25, 2013. The toddler died of her injuries two days later at a New Orleans hospital.
Lewis initially told officers the child was injured after falling from a bed at their Waveland home, where Lewis lived with his girlfriend and three other children. He was the only adult in the home at the time, according to police reports.
The child’s biological mother lived in a separate home.
One of the responding Waveland police officers noticed the young girl appeared to be unconscious, had difficulty breathing and had “an extremely large hematoma” on the side of her head, the police report read.
According to one of the police reports: “As Maleah attempted to breathe, (the responding officer) heard a gurgling sound coming from her,” the report stated. “Before (EMT units) left, they stated they just had to suck blood out of Maleah’s throat, due to the apparent extreme injuries.”
During their investigation, detectives consulted with numerous medical and forensic experts before arresting Lewis four months later, Police Chief David Allen said.
The medical examiner in charge of the autopsy determined the child suffered massive head trauma.
Lewis, who is represented by defense attorney Jim Davis, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in August 2015.
The case has seen postponements and delays for various legal reasons but is slated to begin at the circuit court in Bay St. Louis on Tuesday. Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel is the prosecutor.
A person can be charged with capital murder if the death comes in the commission of another felony. In Lewis’ case, the underlying charge is felony child abuse. Capital murder is punishable by death or life without parole.