TEXARKANA, Ark. — A father accused of failing to act as his wife allegedly inflicted fatal injuries on his 3-year-old daughter is being charged as an accomplice to capital murder.
Prosecuting Attorney Stephanie Potter Barrett recently signed an amendment to the charges facing Everette Cawley.
Everette Cawley, 24, and his wife, McKenna Belcher, 27, were both arrested in April following the death of McKinley Cawley.
Everette Cawley was initially charged with two counts of permitting the abuse of a minor for allegedly failing to intervene when Belcher allegedly physically abused McKinley and her younger, then 2-year-old brother. Everette Cawley's new charge, accomplice to capital murder, is punishable by death by lethal injection or life without the possibilty of parole.
That is the same punishment Belcher faces if convicted of capital murder in McKinley's death. Barrett previously announced that her office is seeking the death penalty for Belcher. No announcement has been made regarding the punishment the state will seek for Everette Cawley. He is scheduled to appear next week before Circuit Judge Brent Haltom.
McKinley died of blunt force injuries hours after her father ran through the emergency room doors of a Texarkana hospital carrying her unconscious body April 2, 2019. The gravely injured child was airlifted from CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System to Children's Medical Center in Little Rock, where she died less than 12 hours later.
Hospital staff immediately suspected abuse was to blame for the child's dire medical condition and contacted police when she was brought for treatment at about 4:30 a.m. on April 2.
McKinley's suffering included a traumatic brain injury and "excessive bruising to the face and torso which is far beyond any over-active child and patterned to suggest use of a rigid object," the affidavit states. Belcher allegedly threw, kicked, stomped and beat McKinley in the days and hours before her death while Cawley allegedly failed to protect her, according to authorities.
External injuries similar to those seen on McKinley also were found on the 2-yea-old boy's face, torso and legs, which doctors hypothesized were caused by a "blunt type instrument/object" and are described as bruising all along his face and limbs. The couple's infant, born Jan. 30, was in need of medical attention as well.
The girl had a severe yeast infection "under her neck skin fold," which was bleeding at the time she was taken into state custody.
Everette Cawley is charged with two counts of permitting the abuse of a minor, each of which is punishable by up to six years in prison. He faces the death penalty or life in prison if convicted of being an accomplice to capital murder.
Belcher is scheduled to appear before Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson for a pretrial hearing next month.