Suspect in Columbus toddler death accused of previous assault - WRBL

Suspect in Columbus toddler death accused of previous assault

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Columbus Police records show the man charged Tuesday in the beating death of a 23-month-old girl was jailed for assaulting the girl's mother just days before the child was fatally injured.

Damian Belle, 19, had been out of a jail for just over a week for allegedly beating the child's mother on March 8, according to police reports.

Belle is charged with murder in the death of Ki’Ja Bassett. Police say it happened on Farr Road, where Belle, the mother's boyfriend, also lived. Columbus police were dispatched to Columbus Fire Department Station 4 on Friday, March 21 in reference to a child having trouble breathing, according to police. The Fire Department transported the child, Ki'Ja Bassett, to Midtown Medical Center. She was later airlifted to Egleston's Children's Hospital in Atlanta. The child passed away on Tuesday, March 24.

Gwendolyn Toney, the child's aunt, says she took care of Ki'Ja most of the time. She says her niece was going to turn 2 next month, but instead of planning a birthday party, she's now planning a funeral.

"I can't believe she's gone," says Toney. "She loved everybody. She was my heart and I was her heart. We were the best of everything together. There wasn't no Ka'Ji without me and no me without Ka'Ji."

Deloris Dawson, Toney's neighbor, became close friends with Gwendolyn through Ki'Ja. Dawson would come next door and play with her while Gwendolyn watched her niece.

"She's an angel in heaven right now," says Dawson. "I just hope that if anybody knows about any baby or any children being abused, please do something about it so nobody else has to go through what we're going through right now."

The family is trying to raise money for Ki'Ja's burial, if you'd like to help send us an e-mail and we will get you in contact with the family.

David Hurst

David Hurst, a graduate of the Univ. of Georgia, focuses on how your tax dollars are being spent.
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