FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fort Bragg soldier and her husband appeared in court on Monday on new murder charges.
Jamarcus Smith and Octavia Bennett-Smith were arrested this past December after their 3-year-old daughter was found unresponsive at their home.
Child abuse and sexual assault were the initial charges in this case. The medical examiner now ruled the death a homicide. An autopsy report concludes the 3-year-old girl died from pneumonia because she was so severely malnourished.
On a 911 call, mom Octavia Bennett-Smith is heard saying: “I can’t go through this again, Jesus…”
The couple had another child die 2 years ago – and that death is now under investigation, officials revealed Monday.
The 911 calls are devastating as 28-year-old Octavia Bennett-Smith calls for help.
This past December, 3-year-old daughter Jourdin Smith was found unresponsive in the couple’s home on Regency Drive.
The autopsy report said Jourdin likely would have survived if she’d been properly fed and brought in for medical care.
The report said the Fayetteville child weighed just 7 more pounds than she did when she visited a doctor two years ago. It also noted she had cuts and bruises on most of her body and injuries consistent with sexual abuse.
Octavia Bennett-Smith is heard on the 911 call saying: “She’s bruised, what is this?”
Dispatcher: “Is she changing colors?”
Octavia Bennett-Smith: “She’s not losing color.”
Autopsy results now indicate the toddler was bruised throughout her body, severely malnourished, neglected and abused.
“We were informed that the child suffered from a case of pneumonia which also was a setting from the neglect, abuse and sexual assault,” said Jamaal Littlejohn of Fayetteville Police
Octavia Bennett-Smith on the 911 call: “She keeps rolling her eyes in in the back of her head, it’s like she’s having a hard time breathing”
In court Monday, the couple faced a judge on the updated murder charges.
Jamarcus Smith’s charges also include statutory sex offense and indecent liberties with a child.
Investigators tell CBS North Carolina that Octavia Bennett-Smith is currently eight months pregnant.
Now detectives are investigating the death of the couple’s first child.
In February of 2014, their two month old son was found dead inside their home. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) was listed as the cause back then.
“We received other information from interviews that we conducted that it may be possibly caused by one of the parents,” Littlejohn said.
With the first degree murder charge, if convicted the Smiths could face death or life in prison without parole.