ROCK HILL, SC (The Herald) — A Rock Hill mother and her live-in boyfriend have been charged with homicide by child abuse or neglect after a disabled four-year-old girl was found dead in a dresser drawer, police said.
Jackleen Elizabeth Mullen, 23, and Audrevious Jarrell Williams, 26, were arrested Wednesday morning, said Lt. Michael Chavis of the Rock Hill Police Department.
Mullen was arrested a day after she pleaded guilty in York County criminal court to a forgery charge, court records show.
Rock Hill police Det. Keenan McCrorey said in court Wednesday the victim, India Martin, 4, was a special-needs and disabled child. Police found the child dead in a dresser drawer in the bedroom the couple shared, McCrorey said. The defendants had lied about the victim’s whereabouts to police earlier in the investigation and claimed the girl was with family in North Carolina, McCrorey said.
Mullen, the mother, “showed no emotion” during the investigation or when her daughter’s body was found by police detectives, McCrorey said.
“We found this child, dead, stuffed in a drawer,” McCrorey said in court. “We ask that bond be denied.”
McCrorey said in court the victim showed signs of trauma from beating and respiratory distress. Details about how long the child had been dead when she was found were not released.
Police found the child after getting a search warrant for the home when they determined that Mullen had lied about the victim’s location, police said.
Mullen is the child’s mother and Williams is Mullen’s boyfriend, police said. The victim, Mullen and Williams lived in the home where the child was found, police said.
Police had responded to the couple’s home on Gentle Breeze Lane in southern Rock Hill around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, police said. Rock Hill officers were alerted by York County Sheriff’s Office deputies about a possible child fatality. Details about how deputies were notified about the child were not released.
Neither Mullen nor Williams spoke in court Wednesday afternoon about the details of the case. Both were approved for a public defender lawyer to represent them.
Judge Jane Modla denied bond to Mullen and Williams. Modla said in court that Mullen, the mother of the child, is accused by police of being the caregiver to the victim at the time the victim was killed.
Homicide by child abuse can carry a sentence of up to life in prison under South Carolina law, Modla said in court.
Mullen and Williams have a child together, age 1, court testimony showed. Mullen has another child, age 4, and Williams has another child, age 7, according to court statements.
Modla ordered that both defendants have no contact with the surviving children while the case remains pending.
No trial date has been set because coronavirus and Covid-19 scheduling changes have caused all York County jury trials to be suspended, Modla said.
Homicide by child abuse or neglect is defined as anyone who “causes the death of a child under the age of 11 while committing child abuse or neglect, and the death occurs under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life,” South Carolina law shows.
A person also can be charged with homicide by child abuse if someone “knowingly aids and abets another person to commit child abuse or neglect, and the child abuse or neglect results in the death of a child under the age of eleven,” state law shows.
Mullen has a previous criminal record including child neglect charges, South Carolina court records show.
Mullen pleaded guilty Tuesday in York County criminal court to a forgery charge from a February arrest, court records show. She was sentenced to 18 months probation and an 18-month prison sentence was suspended, according to prosecutors and online court records.
Mullen pleaded guilty in 2017 to a charge of felony child neglect from a 2016 arrest, court records show. In that case Mullen was charged after she gave birth to a child who had tested positive for cocaine, according to 2016 police incident and arrest reports.
Mullen also has a 2014 conviction for larceny, court records show.
The case is being investigated by Rock Hill police, the York County Coroner’s Office, and the State Law Enforcement Division child fatality unit, officials said. SLED has a task force that investigates all deaths of minors under age 17.