HOUSTON - Questions have been circling around the Maleah Davis case since Friday's discovery of a black plastic bag that contained a child's remains. The bag was found in an area where Derion Vence, Maleah's stepfather, allegedly confessed to dumping Maleah's body to community activist Quanell X.
Vence has been in jail since his arrest in May, when he was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with Maleah’s disappearance after investigators said blood found in the family’s southwest Houston apartment matched DNA taken from Maleah’s toothbrush.
On Friday, the investigation led to a remote area in the town of Hope, Arkansas, where the bag containing the remains was found near a road. Those remains were taken back to Houston on Friday evening and are being tested to determine if they are Maleah's.
Here are the following questions we can answer surrounding the case so far:
Q: When will the autopsy be?
A: The identification process of the remains began Saturday, and it is still underway.
Q: How long until results will be ready?
A: Medical examiners say they don't know. An autopsy usually takes up to two to four hours to perform, and results can be released within 24 hours, but full results could take up to six weeks.
Q: What’s likely to happen on the legal side?
A: Nothing will happen until they identify the remains. Legal analyst Brian Wice said if the remains are of Maleah Davis, then the charges against Vence could be upgraded to capital murder. He said that charge carries a sentence of life without the possibility of parole or a death sentence. If Vence is charged with capital murder, he will be held at no bond, Wice said.
Q: What did they find in Arkansas?
A: Authorities said an interstate cleanup crew found the remains in a garbage bag emitting a foul odor just outside of Hope. Officials said they found clothing and jewelry that led them to believe the remains are those of a small child.
Q: When is Vence's next court date?
A: His next court appearance is scheduled on July 10 at 9 a.m.
Q: Has Maleah Davis' mother, Brittany Bowens, been charged?
A: No charges have been filed against her. Wice said Bowens made a tragic mistake by not helping law enforcement at a time when law enforcement needed her help to find Maleah. He said her moral responsibility is radically different from her criminal liability, which is zero.
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