FORT SMITH (KFSM) – A newly-released autopsy report on a two-year-old Van Buren girl states she had two injuries reported to state police in the months leading up to her rape and death.
The Arkansas State Crime Laboratory report released Wednesday states the girl suffered “multiple episodes of abuse,” including two in the last two months of her life. She died last October after being admitted into Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith with severe internal injuries from a suspected rape, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Sebastian County prosecutor Daniel Shue filed a first-degree murder charge against the girl’s uncle, Cohen J. Davis, on Tuesday, according to court documents. Davis has been held without bond in the Sebastian County Detention Center since October on suspicion of his niece’s rape. He pleaded not guilty to the rape charge in November.
The state medical examiner’s report completed Jan. 14 officially classifies the girl’s death as a homicide and gives the cause of death as “multiple blunt force injuries”.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital staff in August reported a broken arm suffered by the girl to the Arkansas State Police’s Crimes Against Children division. Less than a month before the girl’s death, she was again taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock with a hematoma on her cheek that was suffered when she fell on a marble coffee table, according to family.
Naomi Nichols died Oct. 15, 2014, after being taken into Sparks Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith with severe internal injuries and bruises all over her body, according to the arrest warrant that was issued for Davis. Family members told police and 5NEWS the girl died because of injuries suffered while falling down some stairs.
“Obviously, we didn’t think he was capable of anything,” said Nichols’ mother Courtney Nichols. “There’s nothing that I would want to say to him. She was perfect. We are going to miss her, we all miss her.”
Davis brought Naomi into Sparks and told medical personnel she had fallen down several stairs in his home and that the girl “wasn’t acting right,” so he placed her in a cold shower to wake her up. The two-year-old threw up while in the shower, so Davis took her to the hospital, he said.
Naomi later died from her injuries in an operating room despite several attempts by medical crews at resuscitation, according to the arrest warrant.
The girl’s body was transported for an autopsy to the Arkansas State Crime Lab, where an examiner found evidence of sexual assault. The doctor performing the autopsy determined the injuries occurred within hours prior to the victim’s death, the warrant states. Davis told police at the hospital he was the only person watching Naomi in the time leading up to her admission to the hospital.
Following Naomi’s death, three other children in the home—aged seven, five and four—were taken into Arkansas Department of Human Services custody.
5NEWS reporter Aubry Killion spoke with Davis and the girl’s mother following Davis’ arrest. Click here to read that story and watch the video of that encounter.
The suspect’s next court date is set for April 8 in Sebastian County Circuit Court, records show.