Did 9-month-old Devyn Ellis die from brutal injuries inflicted by her 22-year-old father in October 2014? Or were the infant’s head trauma and broken bones the result of a tragic accident and subsequent attempts to revive her?
Those are the key questions that a Loudoun jury will have to sort through during a two-week Circuit Court trial that opened Monday.
Diamante Travon Ellis, now 24, of Leesburg, is charged with second-degree murder, felony child abuse and neglect, and felony murder in the case.
The investigation began the night of Oct. 2, 2014, when Ellis and his grandfather brought the lifeless infant to the emergency room at the Inova Loudoun Medical Campus in Leesburg. The child was quickly flown to Children’s National Medical Hospital in Washington. After three days on life support, Devyn died Oct. 5.
When questioned extensively by Leesburg Police detectives, her father gave differing stories about what caused her injuries, finally saying the he dropped her onto a bathroom floor.
Devyn’s injuries also were studied extensively, with a host of doctors concluding that the injuries resulted from abuse, including violent shaking.
A year after her death, Ellis was charged with the three felony counts. He has been jailed since October 2015.
In court Monday, it took about six hours for attorneys to select a jury of 14 men and women, including two alternates, to hear the case.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric M. Shamis said prosecutors plan five days of testimony, including the findings of numerous doctors, who, he said, concluded that the injuries could only have occurred from abusive actions.
Ellis’ attorney outlined a different scenario under which Devyn’s broken bones resulted from her father’s panicked efforts to revive her with CRP.
He faces a sentence of five to 40 years in prison if convicted of murder.