ALBANY, Ga. -- A small, white coffin surrounded by light lavender flowers Saturday held the body of 19-month-old Janaysia Stevenson.
Mourners packed Trinity Metropolitan Church to say farewell to the child who died last week after suffering multiple beatings. Authorities say the injuries were inflicted by her mother's boyfriend, Gregory Keith Evans, and that her mother, Chaitia Stevenson, did nothing to intervene. Both are in jail on murder charges.
"I am really hurting. I just don't understand it," said Janaysia's father, Kaywee Hunt. "Honestly I don't know how we could get through this. But we have the support and love of family and friends."
Janaysia died Tuesday after suffering blunt force trauma to her tiny body since early February. Investigators say Evans, 28, has admitted to the beatings.
Stevenson, 20, and Evans are in the Dougherty County Jail, each charged with felony murder. Multiple counts of aggravated assault and cruelty to a child were also filed. Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards said Stevenson was charged because she did not report the assaults.
"I am here because it is a devastating tragedy in our community," Edwards said in front of the church on the 2400 block of Gordon Avenue. "I intend to give a voice for the victim in court."
Called a "Tribute of Life," the program for the service included prayers and scripture readings. A hymn sang by 9-year-old Brenden Harper touched many in the church who cried, hugged and proclaimed their love for the child.
After the memorial service, Janaysia's remains were buried at Floral Memory Gardens. Anyone interested in contributing to help the family with funeral expenses may contribute at any Doco Federal Credit Union, Hunt said.