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Mother ignored baby's fatal bruises

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The mother of a murdered child admitted she ignored the bruises on her daughter the week before the baby was beaten to death.

The woman, 27-year-old Candace Jakes, told police, "I guess I was blocking that out."

Jakes' boyfriend, Philanders Lamont Bowie, is on trial for child abuse and murder, in connection with the death of Makayla Denise Valley, the year-and-a-half-old girl who was killed in 2005.

In the sixth day of trial Wednesday, as attorney Steve Frey began putting up a defense for Bowie, he tried to present evidence the mother was guilty of hurting the child and lying about it, despite not being charged with anything.

The jury watched a video recording of an interview Jakes had, with police, a few hours after her child died.

Jakes, wearing her Delta Air Lines uniform, was passive. The Clayton County Police Department detective doing the interview described the mother, in his case file, as "cold and uncaring."

The detective, Stefan Schindler, apparently didn't think the woman was fully aware her child was dead, like maybe the tragedy of it hadn't registered with her.

"You're child," Schindler said, "is no longer living, breathing. Your child will not grow up to go to school, or get married. Do you understand what I'm talking about? ... it does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out."

Jakes initially told the detectives she didn't know what they were talking about, when they were mentioned the bruises covering Valley's body. Later, she blamed it on her brother, who was in Chicago at the time of the child's death. She then said, "nobody knows, nobody knows how they got there," and then, towards the end of the interview, admitted she did know the bruises were there. She said she'd seen bruises about seven days before Valley died, and had seen more bruises everyday, but didn't think anybody was causing them.

"The only thing I'm a little confused about is you," the detective told her. "How come you didn't take any action to protect your child? That's what I'm having a hard time understanding."

In a second interview, shown to the jury by the prosecution, Jakes sees the photos of her dead child, breaks down wailing and slamming the table, and accuses her boyfriend of murder. Bowie was then charged with child abuse and murder, and Jakes went home.

No one could have looked at Valley and not noticed the bruises, according to the medical examiner.

John Turner, the prosecuting attorney, said the difference between the mother, and the accused, is Bowie confessed.

"Candace Jakes never broke down and confessed to anything," Turner said.

If the jury finds Bowie guilty, he faces a possible sentence of life in prison. The trial is expected to conclude on Thursday with closing arguments.