DECATUR — Records crucial to the murder case of Decatur 2-year-old Ta’Naja Barnes are due to be handed over to the prosecution and defense following a judge’s ruling Tuesday.

Macon County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Griffith said he had reviewed the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services documents and decided they were “relevant to the proceedings.”

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The information had been subpoenaed by First Assistant Macon County State’s Attorney Nichole Kroncke and copies will now be made available to her office and she will share them in turn with Public Defender Michelle Sanders. She is defending Ta’Naja’s mother Twanka Davis, 22, and the issue of the documents came up at a pretrial hearing for Davis who is pleading not guilty to murdering her daughter through “brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty,” according to the charge.

Davis, who remains in custody and was not present in court for the hearing, is also pleading not guilty to endangering Ta’Naja’s life to the point where she died by sheer neglect. Her 25-year-old boyfriend, Anthony Myers, is pleading not guilty to identical charges and has a pretrial hearing set for today. He also remains in custody.

Ta’Naja’s malnourished body had been found on the morning of Feb. 11 amid filthy and rodent-infested conditions at the Decatur home Davis and Myers shared.

The documents are so critical to the case because Ta’Naja had a history of being in and out of the care of DCFS, which had contracted with Decatur-based Webster-Cantrell Hall, a private agency, to provide foster care and other assistance to the girl. The decision to return the child to terrible living conditions in which she was found dead is one in a series of child death tragedies to have recently shaken DCFS.

Dartavius Barnes, Ta’Naja’s natural father, announced in May he was suing Webster-Cantrell Hall over the death of his daughter, and has accused the agency of negligence.

The murder case against Davis is now scheduled for another pretrial hearing Sept. 10.  

PHOTOS: Ta’Naja Barnes case

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Contact Tony Reid at (217) 421-7977. Follow him on Twitter: @TonyJReid


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