Local News

Caretaker cries on stand remembering child who died

Posted August 12, 2010 4:09 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2010 6:55 p.m. EDT

— A day care worker cried Thursday as she recalled DeVarion Gross, a child she remembered as “very smart” and a “good kid.”

DeVarion lived only about 19 months. His body was found, wrapped in a garbage bag and doused in bleach, in his mother’s closet in November 2008. Authorities have estimated he had been dead for weeks.

DeVarion’s mother, Sherita McNeil, is on trial for first-degree murder and concealing the death of a person.

Kathy Williams told jurors she cared for DeVarion when he was about 8 months old.

“He liked playing with his friends, his cousin, and he was just happy,” she said.

She recalled being concerned that DeVarion may have been abused. She said he arrived at day care one day with a busted lip. Another time, when she changed his shirt, Williams recalled seeing another injury.

“When I took it off, I noticed he had a mark on his back. It was made by a belt,” she testified.

She added that McNeil had a red belt that she wore all the time.

Also Thursday, Garner Detective Christine Pappas testified about questioning McNeil after DeVarion’s body was found.

“I asked her if she meant for him to die," Pappas said. "She didn't move, and she said, ‘I didn't do nothing.’"

Thursday was the fourth day of emotional testimony at the trial. The jury has heard from his grandmother and others who claimed to see signs the boy was neglected or abused.

McNeil’s defense attorney, Bryan Collins, said DeVarion hit his head on a coffee table accidentally, and his mother was too scared to report his death.