Aunt pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter of 15-month-old niece

Published 3:25 pm Friday, December 14, 2018

A case centering on the January 2014 death of 15-month-old Malaya Heun has been resolved following a plea from remaining defendant Alisha Carlisle.

Carlisle, Malaya’s aunt, pleaded guilty on Friday in Rowan County Superior Court to felony involuntary manslaughter. Judge Anna Mills Wagoner sentenced her to an active prison sentence of 14 to 26 months in prison.

Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook said the plea was based on her failure to act when she knew or should have known the child victim was injured.

Carlisle’s plea was similar to that of John Travis Turner, the other defendant in the case. In September, Turner was sentenced to 77 to 126 months in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter and two counts of felony child abuse.

Both Carlisle and Turner were initially charged with first-degree murder, felony abuse inflicting serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.

Charges were raised when Malaya was found unresponsive on Jan. 19, 2014, and taken to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. She died just two days later after doctors discovered she had six broken ribs, a perforated bowel and bruises to her abdomen, leading to septic shock.

Prosecutors in September said the lesser charge followed the realization that the blow that killed Malaya may have come as much as 36 hours before she was found unresponsive. Previously, the blow was estimated to have occurred four to six hours earlier.

Carlisle and Turner, who were staying with Carlisle’s sister and Malaya’s mother Christy Moore, were the only two with the child in the four to six hours before her hospitalization. An increased timeframe for her injury significantly widened the pool of suspects.

Carlisle was represented by attorney James Davis. Prosecutors were assistant district attorneys Barrett Poppler and Paxton Butler.

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