A child abuse case so shocking that it changed North Carolina law books is coming to a close. On Wednesday, closing arguments for the Joshua Houser – Kilah Davenport case took place in North Carolina court.
Houser is accused of slamming the young Davenport’s head into a wall “like a battering ram” in a May 2012 attack. Davenport was just three years old at the time. She is left with permanent brain damage. Her brain was so swollen following the alleged attack that doctors had to remove large portions of her skull.
Houser was Kilah’s step-father at the time of the incident. According to prosecutors, the 24-year-old man lost his temper after Kilah soiled herself. They claim he picked Kilah up and rammed her head into a sheetrock wall. Kilah nearly died from the incident and remains severely impaired to this day. She is confined to a wheelchair and cannot speak.
But according to Houser and defense attorney Miles Helms, Houser never smashed the girl’s head into a wall. Helms claims Kilah accidentally fell down the stairs. When he called 911 after her fall, Houser says the operator couldn’t understand the address he was giving them so he punched the wall in frustration.
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In response to the state’s claims, Houser said “I didn’t do it. I won’t admit to something I know I didn’t do.”
Helms asked prosecutors why, if Houser did slam the child into the wall, there was there no drywall residue in her hair. He also asked why no hand marks were found on the girl following the attack.
“It’s impossible this occurred the way the state said it occurred,” Helms argued.
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Prosecutor Anne Reeves called Houser’s story far-fetched at best.
“You all are not fools,” she told the jury. “His story is ridiculous.”
Prosecutors pointed out that two strands of Kilah’s hair were found in the wall she was allegedly slammed into. Doctors examining Kilah’s injuries say they closely resemble those a child would suffer after being ejected from a car.
After Houser’s arrest, Kilah’s family and supporters pushed legislators for what is now known as “Kilah’s law.” The law, signed by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory last April, increases punishments for people convicted of felony child abuse in the state. Prior to Kilah’s law, felony child abuse was punishable with 44-123 months in prison. Now, the offense is punished with a 125-201 month prison sentence.
“This is no doubt probably the most emotional bill I’ll sign as governor,” McCrory said at the signing. “Kilah, you’re beautiful. Thanks for helping us out.”