A mother and her boyfriend were sentenced in the death of 9-year-old Trinity Love Jones, whose body was found in a duffel bag in Hacienda Heights three years ago, authorities said Tuesday.
The child was found dead by maintenance workers on March 5, 2019, her body partially stuffed inside a duffel bag down an embankment in the area of Hacienda Boulevard and Colima Road.
The discovery shocked the community, with the child’s body going unidentified for days as authorities circulated sketches of the girl and tips poured in.
The girl was eventually identified about a week later, and investigators said they found evidence that tied her mother and mother’s boyfriend to the death.
The 31-year-old mother, Taquesta Graham, and her boyfriend, 42-year-old Emiel Hunt, were ultimately arrested and charged with Trinity’s death.
On Friday, Hunt pleaded no contest to one count of assault on a child causing death and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Graham pleaded no contest to one count of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years to life, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
After her body was found, the coroner found evidence that the child had been beaten and denied food, and that she had an infection on her feet that made it hard for her to wear shoes.
Her body was scarred from head to toe, authorities said.
Graham later told investigators that the girl fell and hit her head two weeks before her death but she didn’t take her to the hospital because she was afraid of getting into trouble. She said Trinity had a large lump on her forehead, her eyes were swelling and she had started to slur her words, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2020.
The mother said she noticed that Trinity was having a seizure, but went to work that afternoon as the child slept in the back seat of the car. Graham said she noticed the child wasn’t breathing that night, the Times reported.
Graham said she wanted to call 911, but Hunt convinced her not to, a detective testified.
Both Graham and Hunt had prior convictions, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Graham was previously found guilty of enticing a minor for prostitution in San Bernardino County.
Hunt was convicted of child abuse in San Diego County and spent at least a decade in prison, according to the criminal complaint and a sheriff’s detective.