Disturbing details revealed in court about Norfolk child’s death

Posted at 8:33 AM, May 25, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-25 08:34:08-04

NORFOLK, Va. - A woman charged with second degree murder for her 11-year-old daughter's death has been denied bond.

Last week, Norfolk Police found 11-year-old Heaven Watkins dead inside a home on Balview Avenue in Ocean View. Relatives said she had autism and cerebral palsy.

Heaven's mother, Latoya Smith, and Smith's fiancé, Demont Harris, were both charged with second-degree murder.

Heaven's cause of death has been ruled as blunt force trauma to the head and torso and the Medical Examiner said manner of death was homicide.

The Medical Examiner's reports presented in court Friday showed a head injury and brain bleeding, as well as abdominal injuries. The reports seem to suggest the child was hit so hard in the abdomen that her abdomen split open a few days before she was found dead.

The Medical Examiner also reported 12 to 13 old rib fractures, as well as two to three new fractures that were sustained a few days before Heaven was found dead.

Smith allegedly admitted to “punishing “Heaven because she brought a toy into the bathtub. She also admitted to only feeding her bread and water a few days before she was found dead.

An incident from February 26 was also brought up in court; the Commonwealth said Harris put Heaven's hand under hot water until it burned her skin. The child was hospitalized here in Norfolk for six days and had to get a skin graft. For that incident the couple was recently also charged.

The defense tried to argue Smith is also a victim of abuse in the home. However, the Commonwealth argued that she stood by and watched the abuse happen without ever calling for help from a domestically violent situation.

It was also confirmed that Smith's only son is still living with his aunt in Minnesota because he did not want to move to Hampton Roads.

Child Protective Services removed Smith's other two daughters, who are  six and eight years old. There is an ongoing investigation regarding them as well.

Smith has no criminal record.  The defense argued that Harris is the main aggressor in this situation, but the court spokeswoman told News 3 that they will both be charged with second-degree murder once the warrant is amended.

The defense tried to argue that if released on bond, Smith could work as a housekeeper and would not have any contact with her other children, but the judge still denied the bond request.

It was also revealed in court the family has only been in Hampton Roads for nine months and Harris is originally from the area, but Smith is from Minnesota. They were living with Smith's family until they recently moved to Ocean View.

There will be a memorial service celebrating Heaven's life Friday evening in the Balview Ave area.


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