COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho – We are now in the second week of a murder trial for a North Idaho man accused of killing his stepson.
Joseph Davis faces a charge of first degree murder in the death of 17-month-old Maliki Willburn.
Maliki’s mother testified that prior to his death last summer, he was a fairly healthy child. She also said that he was not very good at climbing things. Despite that, the boy’s stepfather initially told authorities that the child likely fell and hit his head.
The first time KREM 2 spoke with Maliki’s mom, 19-year-old Dacia Cheyney, it was just days after he had been found unresponsive at his home in Coeur d’Alene.
“I just want to be able to play and hold my kid again,” Cheyney said at the time.
It has been less than a year since Maliki’s death, but now his mom has taken the stand in the murder trial of her ex-husband.
A judge did not allow cameras inside the courtroom and Cheyney declined to do an interview with KREM 2 until the trial is over.
She did testify on Monday and it was the first time we had heard from Cheyney in court.
She testified that Maliki, although born premature, had no serious health issues prior to his death. She said he was always happy and energetic.
One night after a family dinner at a Chinese restaurant, the three went home before Cheyney left to go purchase some liquid for an electronic cigarette – leaving Maliki alone with Davis. Cheyney said she was gone for only 15 minutes when she came back to tragedy.
“And I asked him: where’s Maliki?” Cheyney testified. “He said he was in his room, sleeping, but he fell or something while I was going to the bathroom.”
At that point, Cheyney began to cry in court.
She testified she then found Maliki lying down, but in a way he did not normally sleep. There was a coffee table inside the room where Maliki was found, but Cheyney said he would not have been able to climb it – let alone fall off of it.
Cheyney testified once she picked up her baby, she felt a large lump on the back of his head. She then told Davis to call 911.
On that 911 call, Davis calmly mentioned that same lump to a dispatcher. However, Cheyney testified that she had not told Davis about that injury when she first picked Maliki up.
Authorities said that the injuries to Maliki’s head were so severe, they could not have been an accident. An initial charge against Davis of injury to a child was later upgraded to murder.
Davis’ trial, meanwhile, is expected to last at least another week.