Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

35-year-old Latoya Monique Smith had pleaded guilty to Felony Homicide and one count of Child Abuse/Neglect in the death of her daughter, 11-year-old Heaven Watkins. She was sentenced on September 7, 2020 to 50 years in prison, with 20 suspended.

Smith’s boyfriend at the time, Demont Harris, was previously sentenced to 60 years in prison with 35 years suspended, leaving him only 25 years left to serve for his role in Heaven’s death.

One of the abuse charges stems from an injury Heaven got from one punishment in February 2018. The abuse left her hand burned so badly she needed skin grafts. Smith said Harris came up with a lie about the injury.

“Everybody had to say that Heaven was washing her hands in hot water, and the water got too hot, and she burned her hand,” she described.

When police asked Smith why she didn’t stop Harris or “do something about what he had been doing” to her own daughter, she only responded, “I don’t know.”

She told police beating her daughter and forcing her to stand in a corner for hours. That was the couple’s form of punishment for Heaven.

Similar: Kimora Simon’s Body Was Never Found After She Was Beaten To Death Then Buried by the Train Tracks

Police asked Smith to take them back to the night before Heaven died in Norfolk, Virginia. She said Harris punched Heaven “twice in the chest and once in the stomach.”

When detectives asked what Heaven’s reaction was when Harris did things like that. Smith replied, “She was crying. She cried and said, ‘Stop.'”

A detective asked how often Harris hit the child.

“Every time she’s in trouble,” Smith replied, “maybe three or four times out the week.”

Heaven’s death prompted a push for nationwide legislation, bringing about some good.

Virginia passed a statewide law. It requires CPS workers to check other states’ registries for complaints of abuse or neglect going back five years.

There’s still a nationwide push that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to create the “National Interstate Data Exchange System.” The system would allow states to share child abuse and neglect information with other states. It gives caseworkers more background.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com