A Las Vegas judge on Wednesday found that prosecutors had enough evidence to take murder and child abuse charges against a former NFL player to trial.
Cierre Wood, 28, faces a charge of first-degree murder along with 19 counts of child abuse.
In finding that jurors should decide the charges against Wood, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Tobiasson held autopsy photos of 5-year-old La’Rayah Patra Nicole Lamont Davis. The girl had suffered 20 broken ribs, a lacerated liver and bruises and contusions across her entire body and on her vital organs.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Michelle Jobe added 10 new child abuse counts in a preliminary hearing that spanned two days.
La’Rayah’s mother, 26-year-old Amy Taylor, also faces a murder charge and nine counts of child abuse in the girl’s April 9 death.
Authorities had been called to the couple’s apartment in the 9500 block of West Charleston Boulevard after the girl was unresponsive.
La’Rayah died of multiple blunt force injuries, according to the Clark County coroner’s office. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Defense attorney Thomas Ericsson argued that prosecutors had not proven the murder charge against Wood.
“They simply have not proven, even by slight or marginal evidence, conduct by my client that could in any way result in the death of the child,” Ericsson said.
But Jobe said that the girl’s injuries appeared to have occurred within the two weeks she was staying with Wood and Taylor. The judge pointed out that many of the girl’s injuries, including her rib fractures, had not had time to heal.
“This child was in very bad condition during any of the time that these were being inflicted or had been inflicted and medical treatment was not sought,” Tobiasson said. “You have two people who have custody of this child during that time frame.”
Wood, a former running back for Notre Dame and several NFL teams, and Taylor are being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.
Taylor told police she disciplined La’Rayah with spankings, using her hand or a belt. Wood told police he preferred exercise to spanking because La’Rayah was not his daughter.
Wood told police that he made the girl do situps and run laps in an apartment as punishment, according to an arrest report. He chose that method because he was trying to get her “on the right path due to her being ‘chunky,’ ” he told detectives.