Crime

Waveland man sentenced for fatally abusing his toddler daughter

Oren Lewis
Oren Lewis

A Waveland man was found guilty in Hancock County of fatally abusing his toddler daughter, said Assistant District Attorney Crosby Parker.

Oren Lewis, 34, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for capital murder.

Lewis was found guilty of severely abusing his 23-month daughter, Ma’Leah Grace Bush, on Aug. 25, 2013. The toddler died from her injuries two days later.

It took jurors less than two hours to return a guilty verdict, the Sea Coast Echo reported. Lewis was sentenced by Circuit Court Judge Larry Bourgeois.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in this case after consulting the family, District Attorney Joel Smith told the Sea Coast Echo.

Ma’Leah, who was called Gracie by friends and family, was described as “full of life” and “a sweet and loving child” during the trial.

Lewis took the stand during the trial and told jurors his story had never changed — he said he was not in the room when Gracie received the injuries that led to her death.

During closing arguments in the trial, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Burrell gave an emotional closing argument, telling the jury Gracie’s injuries were consistent with a fall from a two-story building, the Sea Coast Echo reported. Earlier in the trial, medical professionals testified that Gracie’s injuries could not have happened from a simple fall.

“The extent of the injuries would require an extreme amount of force,” State Medical Examiner Mark LaVaughn testified.

Regina Zilbermints: 228-896-2340, @RZilbermints

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