UPDATE: Suspect in baby's beating death jailed four days earlier

Damian Belle was accused of beating child's mother

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comMarch 25, 2014 

Belle

Records show the man charged Tuesday in the beating death of a 23-month-old girl was jailed for assaulting the girl’s mother just days before the child fatally was injured.

Damian Belle is charged with murder in the death of Ki'Ja Bassett of Lot M-6, 988 Farr Road, where Belle, the mother’s boyfriend, also lived, police said. Ki’Ja was pronounced dead at 12:52 p.m. Monday at Egleston children’s hospital in Atlanta, where she was airlifted Friday from Columbus’ Midtown Medical Center, authorities said.

Police said they first were summoned Friday to Columbus Fire Department Station 4, 200 N. Oakley Drive, where the child was not breathing. Firefighters rushed her to the hospital.

Police arrested Belle, 19, at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Velpoe Drive and Wandering Lane, and he was booked into the Muscogee County Jail at 2:04 p.m., according to jail records.

He had been out of jail for just over a week, having been arrested at Benning Drive and Wade Street the morning of March 17, on a warrant charging battery with physical harm, a misdemeanor, for allegedly beating the child’s mother on March 8, according to police reports and jail records.

The mother, who was 19 at the time, told police Belle beat her in the bedroom of the mobile home they shared. A police report said she was assaulted between noon on March 7 and 11 a.m. March 8, and she reported the incident at 11:30 a.m. March 8.

The police report did not specify her injuries, but said she was taken to the Midtown Medical Center for treatment. Police designated the incident a battery involving family violence.

According to jail records, Belle was booked into the jail at 11:12 a.m. and released on $1,000 bond at 4:30 p.m. March 17.

The day before her child died in Atlanta, the mother marked her 20th birthday. Her name has not been published here because she is alleged to be a victim of domestic violence.

Belle still faces the misdemeanor battery charge. He also is charged with murder and first-degree child cruelty. His preliminary hearing in Columbus Recorder’s Court is set for 9 a.m. Friday.

This is the fifth homicide in Muscogee County this year and the first since Feb. 21, when Tonya Moses Charles was fatally shot by her estranged husband in the parking lot of the Department of Public Health.

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