NC couple charged with murder in death of 3-year-old daughter

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (CBS North Carolina) – A Fayetteville couple has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of their 3-year-old daughter that occurred on Dec. 1, 2015.

After receiving the findings of an autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh that ruled the 3-year-old’s death was a homicide on April 21, detectives obtained new warrants on the couple.

Octavia Smith, charged in her daughter's death. (WNCN)

On April 22, warrants were obtained charging both Jamarkus Smith and Octavia Bennett-Smith with first-degree murder. Detectives served the warrant on Smith, who was already in the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $3 million bond for his previous charges in the case, and he is now being held with no bond.

Officers arrested Bennett-Smith at her home. She was processed at the Cumberland County Detention Center where she is also being held without bond.

Fayetteville police responded to a home on Regency Drive around 9:15 a.m. on Dec. 1, 2015 on a call reporting an unresponsive child.

A 3-year-old child was found unresponsive and transported to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for treatment.

Smith initially told police his daughter was playing on a chair and fell.

Bennett-Smith called 911 and said her husband told her their child was having a hard time breathing.

The 911 dispatcher asked Octavia Smith if she believed her husband could have done something to the child.

Octavia Smith asked to speak to the dispatcher in private.

“I don’t know, but he’s in there saying you’re trying to blame me. I don’t know what’s wrong with my child, I was at work,” Bennett-Smith told the dispatcher.

The child later died from those injuries, police said.

An investigation revealed the child suffered the injuries at the hands of Jamarkus Smith, police said. Some of those injuries are related to sexual abuse, according to court documents.

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