Couple Charged With Murder After They Repeatedly Beat and Killed Baby Girl

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 4, 2015   |   2:10PM   |   Atlanta, GA

A couple in Georgia face murder charges after repeatedly beating an infant girl to the point of killing her.

Eleven days after Journey Ann Cowart celebrated her first birthday, she was dead. The Bartow County sheriff said Monday the baby was beaten to death, allegedly at the hands of her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. And it wasn’t the first time she had been abused, Sheriff Clark Millsap said.

Brandy Ann Boyd and her boyfriend Austin Levi Payne were charged with cruelty to children but this has been upgraded to murder. An autopsy of baby Journey Ann Cowart’s body showed she “had previously suffered broken ribs and a broken leg.” She died after she was rushed to the hospital not breathing in Bartow County, Georgia on January 21.

The child had healed ribs that had previously been broken. And she also had a femur that had cracked and had already healed.

Journey Ann would have celebrated her second birthday this month.


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Boyd and Payne were arraigned in November on murder charges in connection with Cowart’s death. Each faced 22 counts — four of malice murder, six of felony murder, eight of first-degree cruelty to children, three of aggravated battery and one count of battery. A grand jury in September indicted Payne on all 22 charges, with Boyd indicted on all but one cruelty to children in the first degree charge.

According to the indictment, Cowart suffered bruising to the forehead, torso and legs; biting to the shoulder; injuries to the ribs, leg and arm with fractures to the leg, arm and ribs; traumatic injuries to the stomach and liver; bleeding on and damage to the brain; and blows to the abdomen and head “against an unknown solid object.”

On Jan. 14, Bartow County Superior Court Judge Carey Nelson issued a gag order in the case. At the same time, Nelson denied a motion to suppress statements made during interviews with the Bartow County Sheriff’s Office. Nelson also denied a motion by both defendants for a change of venue.

The case currently is pending on Nelson’s trial calendar. Criminal cases will be heard next the week of Feb. 16.