Maleah Davis’ Older Brother Now at Center of Parental Custody Battle

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It’s been less than a year since 4-year-old Maleah Davis disappeared from her Houston home and was later found dead in a tragic case that gained national attention.

Now, the young girl’s parents are in a fight for custody of her older brother.

Maleah Davis
Court documents show that Derion Vence struck Maleah Davis, 4, with his hand and a blunt object and didn’t seek medical attention for her. (KHOU 11 / video screenshot)

According to FOX26 Houston, Davis’ parents, Brittany Bowens and Craig Davis, appeared in a Harris County civil court Tuesday in a battle for the 6-year-old boy. Bowens is requesting that her son be placed with her mother, Brenda Bowens.

Jurors were selected Monday, with testimony in the trial starting Tuesday, the outlet reported. A CPS caseworker testified that Bowens “isn’t emotionally ready to take the kids.”

This isn’t the first time Bowens and Davis have faced off in court over their kids. Before Maleah’s death, she too was at the center of a custody battle.

The young girl and her two siblings were placed in child protective custody in August 2018 after Maleah suffered a severe brain injury officials said was the result of possible abuse. By February 2019, the children were ultimately returned to the home Bowens shared with her ex–fiancé, Derion Vence, at the time after doctors were unable to determine if Davis’ injuries were actually caused by physical abuse.

By May 2019, Maleah would go missing. Vence, who was the last person to see the girl, claimed he was carjacked and that Maleah, 4, had been kidnapped by strangers. His story quickly unraveled, however, and police named him as a prime suspect in the child’s disappearance.

Vence, 28, would later confess to dumping the 4-year-old’s body along a busy Arkansas highway and claimed her death was an “accident.” Court docs show authorities believe he struck Maleah with his hand and a blunt object before restricting her airway, killing her.

Authorities discovered her remains in a trash bag on the side of the road. 

Vence is now jailed on charges of tampering with a corpse and causing serious bodily injury to a child. Maleah’s relatives on her biological dad’s side have grown frustrated waiting for prosecutors to charge Vence with murder.

“[He] left her in that apartment for however many days until [he] figured out how to move my little cousin, [and] then threw her on the side of the highway like she was trash,” cousin Tamisha Mendoza said after a court hearing for Vence last year. “You knew what you were doing. That was murder. Period. Murder.”

Critics have also called for charges to be brought against Bowens, arguing she was complicit in the alleged abuse against her daughter. According to FOX 26, the mother is now in counseling and has undergone extensive psychological assessments at the direction of CPS.

Bowen’s younger son, whom she shares with Vence, remains in the custody of Vence’s mother. It’s unclear who her older son is staying with.

Judge Gloria Lopez, who faced criticism after Maleah was returned home to Bowens and Vence early last year, will preside over this latest custody battle and has issued a gag order for everyone involved in the case. 

Watch more in the video below.

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