HOUSTON - The Harris County medical examiner announced Friday that 4-year-old Maleah Davis died by "homicidal violence."
Her death was ruled a homicide.
Her stepfather, Derion Vence, has been arrested and charged with tampering with evidence.
What is homicidal violence?
“It essentially means a death from anything other than natural causes,” said KPRC legal analyst Brian Wice.
Wice cautions that homicidal violence does not automatically equate with murder. Wice said murder is a legal term and prosecutors must prove a person was intentionally killed before seeking an indictment on murder charges.
Does the medical examiner’s ruling mean they know how Maleah died?
Not at this time. The medical examiner’s ruling establishes that Maleah did not die from natural causes or during an accident, but the manner and means of her death have not yet been established.
“It was certainly an essential step. They could not have gone forward in taking this case back into the grand jury unless and until they had a determination from the medical examiner that this was a homicide,” Wice said.
Wice said had Maleah’s cause of death remained undetermined, it would have been much more difficult for prosecutors to seek new charges in the case.
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