Judge Michael Nettles denied bond for both Jeraldine Brockington, 42, and her daughter Kesia Grant, 23, who are charged in connection with the death of Tylashia Grant, 3.
Each faces a charge of homicide by child abuse. Brockington is Tylashia's great aunt and Kesia Grant is the child's cousin.
Friday morning, Judge Nettles said he was denying bond for Brockington and Grant because he considered them flight risks and because of the seriousness of crime.
During the 30 minute hearing, lead investigator Jennifer Floyd, with the Florence County Sheriff's Office, said Tylashia had burns all over body when she was taken to the emergency room January 25. Floyd said many of the burns were old. She told the court that Brockington and Grant failed to get Tylashia adequate medical care and finally took the child to the hospital only when she was unresponsive.
Tylashia's teacher at Carver Elementary School broke down in court as she spoke of her former student. Megan Johnson described Tylashia as a happy and lovable child. She said they called the child "Little Bit" because she was so small. She described Tylashia as a child who loved to sing and dance. She even brought a picture of Tylashia from her first day at school. "My heart was breaking. Just a poor innocent child and the picture of the child, this beautiful child, knowing what she must have gone through."
We learned last week that Tylashia had been pulled out of the child development program at Carver Elementary School a few weeks before her death.
Solicitor Ed Clements, who is prosecuting the case, was crying in court as he told the judge about Tylashia's injuries. "This child died a horrible painful death," he told the court. He said the evidence shows a clear pattern of abuse and neglect. Clements says the child had prior medical conditions, including Cerebral Palsy and Human Growth Deficiency.
Tylashia's biological mother, Tameka Grant, was also in the courtroom, and she talked to us for the first time. She told us she was still shaken by her daughter's death. "It just hit me so hard. I feel like I lost my breath. Like I couldn't breathe." Tameka was just 15 when she gave birth to Tylashia. She told us her family had concerns about how she was caring for Tylashia so the child was removed from her custody by DSS and given to her aunt, Jeraldine. Tameka said she had a visit with Tylashia in 2009 and noticed a scratch on her head. Tameka says she had her mother call the Department of Social Services to report the scratch but tells us they never heard back.
During Friday's hearing, we also learned that school officials said they made several complaints to DSS about their suspicions that the Tylashia was being mistreated at home.
The Department of Social Services told us earlier this week that they are conducting an internal investigation into the case. They have yet to respond to our requests for information about complaints that may have been made to them about Tylashia's care.
Brockington and Grant are allowed to request another bond hearing at a later time.