FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Za'Mya Lila Williams would have turned 3 on Dec.11. But instead of a birthday party, there was a funeral at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Fort Lauderdale.
The last time Za'Mya's mother, Shanika Williams, saw her alive was Nov. 15. She left her with Larry Donte Haynes, the girl's biological father. Za'Mya didn't call him daddy, Williams said. She called him Donte.
About four days later, doctors at Plantation General Hospital said Za'Mya was dead.
For about seven months, no one in the Fort Lauderdale neighborhood, where she was seen playing, knew with certainty how she died. But on Friday, Broward Sheriff's Office deputies said there were two to blame. And they arrested Haynes, 34, and Amber McCray, 23.
Police said Haynes and McCray, his girlfriend, lied. When a paramedic found Za'Mya unconscious, Haynes said the toddler had fallen asleep next to him and McCray before he realized she wasn't breathing. His story didn't add up. Detectives collected evidence from his apartment Nov. 20.
Doctors at the hospital said Za'Mya had signs of bruising and abrasions around the head, neck and abdominal area. She was also dehydrated and malnourished. Dr. Stephen Robinson, the medical examiner, said the girl took beatings that caused injuries to her abdomen and head.
It was a homicide, Robinson said Nov. 23.
The girl had a perforated bowel and a "pulpified" liver due to blunt force injuries, Robinson said in January. There were injuries that happened three to four days before she died and injuries that happened four to six hours before she died, his report said.
The injuries were not due to accidental falls, Robinson said. Dr. Randell Alexander agreed with Robinson's report. Both doctors said that medical attention could have saved Za'Mya's life.
'DONTE HIT ME'
Williams said Za'Mya referred to her live-in boyfriend, Connery Hadden, as daddy. Hadden said Za'Mya was healthy when he last saw her.
She was "acting like a normal two year old," Hadden said, according to detectives.
Hadden added that when Za'Mya came back home from spending time with Haynes, she came back with marks, cuts and bruises on her body. He didn't want Za'Mya to see Haynes anymore. He didn't trust him.
Hadden said Za'Mya told him, "Donte hit me."
When Williams confronted Haynes, she said he told her the injuries were due to accidental falls. But the girl's aunt also told deputies that when she asked Za'Mya how she was injured about a month before she died, the girl had the same answer.
"Donte hit me."
They didn't report the injuries to authorities. The Florida Department of Children and Families didn't have a record of Za'Mya's alleged abuse.
McCray blamed Williams and Hadden. She told police she noticed marks on the girl's chest and ear and said she was vomiting and couldn't eat or drink anything.
She had "pooped herself," McCray said, according to detectives. Haynes said he saw feces running down the girl's leg outside the front door of McCray's apartment. Detectives found samples of Za'Mya's feces there.
To explain the injuries, Haynes and McCray said Za'Mya fell off the bed. He claimed he picked her up and she went back to sleep.
She "didn't even cry or nothing," Haynes said, according to detectives.
The day doctors pronounced her dead, he said he woke up about 2:30 a.m. to use the restroom. Haynes said he noticed she wasn't breathing. His mom, Sharon Haynes, -- and not him -- called 911 and Williams.
'SHE WAS COLD'
Months later, the grandmother admitted that she and her son had lied to deputies.
During her testimony in February, she said Haynes and McCray got to her apartment about 2:40 a.m.
Detectives said the couples' mobile phones' records and GPS data corroborated the time.
She said her son had her granddaughter Za'Mya in his arms when he got to her apartment in Fort Lauderdale. She was cold, she said.
Detectives concluded Haynes abused and neglected Za'Mya. He and McCray failed to call for medical assistance and lied to deputies, detectives said. Deputies found Za'Mya's blood on Haynes bed sheets.
BSO spokeswoman Keyla Concepcion said Haynes and McCray will each face first-degree murder charges. They were at the main Broward County jail on Saturday, after appearing in bond court.