A North Carolina mother will spend over two decades in prison for the murder of her 4-year-old daughter in the summer of 2020.
Malikah Diane Bennett, 33, was first arrested in May 2021 on charges of murder in the first degree, child abuse inflicting serious injury, and destruction of a body/concealing an unnatural death.
Those charges came in response to the discovery of her daughter, Majelic “Jellie” Young, buried in the backyard of her house on Braden Drive in Charlotte. At the time of the grim find, Majelic had been considered missing for several months – she was last seen alive in late August or early September 2020.
In warrants released by police after the mother’s arrest, law enforcement described how the girl died. That information came from witness testimony from Young’s teenage older sister.
The defendant’s then-13-year-old daughter allegedly told police that her baby sister was essentially abused to death by being forced to stand in the laundry room as punishment. During this brutal process, the 4-year-old was allowed no breaks to sit down. She also couldn’t leave. At the end of the first day, the teenager told investigators her sister, still unable to use the restroom, defecated in her pants.
The standing torture would continue for two more days, the teenager told police. By the end of the third day, Majelic’s breathing was labored, and she was so tired she fell, falling out the back door, striking her head on the ground and dying.
After that, the older girl, whose name is not being released, told detectives her mother enlisted her to help cover up the crime.
She said that Bennett put the dead child into two plastic bags. Then those bags were transferred to the trunk of her SUV for five days. Next, the defendant allegedly forced her older daughter to help her dig a hole and cover her younger daughter’s body with dirt.
“This case is deeply disturbing,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Lt. Bryan Crum said during a press conference at the time of the arrest. “It’s disturbing to everyone who’s worked it. Crime scene investigators, detectives, everyone involved in this case – many of us are parents, and it’s very difficult to understand how someone could do this to their child, kill their child and, bury them and move on with their life as if nothing happened.”
Later autopsy results would show that Young had been serially abused and malnourished, local CBS affiliate WBTV reported. The girl also had significant amounts of acetone and ethanol in her system.
The defendant pleaded guilty to one charge of murder in the second degree on Thursday morning.
Bennett and the girl’s grandmother, Tammy Taylor Moffett, 55, were both arrested in quick succession after voluntary interviews with the CMPD following the discovery of Majelic’s corpse. Moffett was arrested and charged roughly a week later with concealing a death and accessory after the fact.
The girl’s grandmother rejected a plea deal that would have come with a five-year sentence, according to local ABC/Telemundo affiliate WSOC. She pleaded not guilty to her charges in June.
Under her plea deal, Bennett was sentenced to spend between 300-372 months in state prison – roughly the equivalent of 25-31 years behind bars. The remaining charges against her were dropped.
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Malikah Bennett sentenced in daughter Majelic Young’s murder
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