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DECATUR — Led into a courtroom with a crowded public gallery dotted with TV cameras Thursday morning, Decatur mom Twanka L. Davis made her first public appearance to face accusations that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter through starvation and neglect.

Davis, 21, stood before Macon County Circuit Court Judge Phoebe Bowers who presented the precise charges: first-degree murder, alleging that the death of Ta'Naja Barnes was the result of “brutal or heinous behavior indicative of wanton cruelty.”

The charge goes on to say that Ta'Naja, whose lifeless body was found in her cold bedroom of her East North Street home the morning of Feb. 11 wrapped in a urine-soaked blanket, died through a combination of Davis failing to provide proper food and water and removing a heater from the child’s bedroom. The charge said those acts resulted in Ta'Naja’s “malnourishment, dehydration and cold exposure.”

A second charge, a Class 3 felony, accused Davis of endangering the life or health of Ta'Naja by the same means: depriving her of food and water, heat and proper care, and so “causing the death of T.B. (Ta'Naja Barnes.)”

Davis, dressed in a blue jail-issue jumpsuit, did not enter plea and declined Bowers' offer to read the charges out loud to her before she was led away.

Explaining the charges before the court appearance, the Macon County State’s Attorney’s Office said the “brutal or heinous … indicative of wanton cruelty” language in the murder charge means Davis could face life in prison if convicted.

In the brief court hearing, Bowers ruled that Davis was indigent and appointed a public defender for her. She told Davis the defense lawyer would meet with her at the Macon County Jail, where she is being held in lieu of $1 million bond, before her next court appearance.

Bowers scheduled a preliminary hearing for Feb. 27.


2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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

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Macon County Courts Reporter

Macon County courts reporter for the Herald & Review.

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