A Bartow County woman will continue to serve a life prison sentence for the death of her 14-month-old daughter who died after ingesting cocaine.
Stephanie Stephens appealed her conviction on felony murder, which derived from the fact her daughter Jewell Williams died as a result of her parent’s possession and sale of cocaine.
She argued the evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict her of felony murder because prosecutors failed to prove a connection between the drug possession charge and the toddler’s death.
“We reject that argument, just as we rejected the same argument in the appeal of her co-defendant,” Justice Nels S.D. Peterson wrote in an opinion.
Her co-defendant Anthony Tawon Williams, the father of the toddler, was also convicted and appealed with a similar argument — which was also denied.
“But as we explained in rejecting essentially the same argument by Stephens’s co-defendant, ‘the facts support the unmistakable conclusion that the victim ingested the deadly dose of cocaine after finding it in the place where [Williams and Stephens] stored it to sell others,’” the opinion says. “Accordingly, the evidence is sufficient to support Stephens’s conviction for felony murder arising out of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.”
The couple lived in a rental home in Cartersville in 2007 with their children, including their toddler daughter.
According to witnesses, the couple sold crack-cocaine from their home, typically keeping it under an arm of the living room couch or in Stephens’ purse. One witness testified that while Stephens sometimes ordered the children out of the room during a drug deal, Jewell would typically come back into the room before the drug deal was done.
On the night of June 15, 2007, Jewell apparently found some of the cocaine and ingested it. Jewell was transported to the local hospital where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy showed the toddler had died from acute cocaine toxicity.
They were captured in Atlanta by a fugitive task force and following a four-day trial, the jury found both Stephens and Williams guilty of all charges.