Murdered toddler D’onya “Bella” Walker will be buried in Grand Bahama, where she spent most of her four years on earth.
A ruling on Monday by Supreme Court Justice Loren Klein paved the way for Bella’s father, Deno Smith, to bury the four-year-old according to his wishes.
Bella’s mother, Ostonya Walker, who is accused of contributing to her November 5 death, by exposing the four-year-old to grievous bodily harm and cruelty to children, had petitioned the court to have full control over the burial plans. Walker’s live-in boyfriend, Darion Smith, is charged with the youngster’s murder.
Walker’s mother, Monalisa Walker, initiated the proceedings in the Supreme Court on her daughter’s behalf, as she had been granted power of attorney while her daughter was on remand.
Walker was released on $20,000 bail on December 1, while the hearing was underway.
Although Smith is not listed on the child’s birth certificate, Klein said that his paternity was not in dispute. In fact, he said the evidence showed that Bella was in the custody of Smith and his family since she was two weeks old while her mother sought employment on other islands.
Klein said, “It seems she was content to leave the child in the care of her father and paternal relatives, although her evidence is that she did on a few occasions assume custody and care of Baby Bella. In what turned out to be a cruel twist of fate, she was returned to her mother in New Providence on 31 August 2021, apparently at the mother’s request. Two months and five days later, she was dead.
“The evidence is overwhelming as to where Baby Bella had the closest connections during her life, both temporally, geographically, and in terms of relationships,” Klein said.
He added, “Although there are some minor disputes (and on this point, I prefer the defendant’s evidence), it would appear that Baby Bella spent roughly two months and three weeks out of the four years of her tragically short life in Nassau.”
Klein said that on the mother’s evidence, Bella spent at most six months in her care.
The judge said that he did not intend to “micromanage the specific details of Baby Bella’s final arrangements by condescending to time, place and manner of burial”.
However, Klein said he hoped the arrangements included her mother’s family as they were “also entitled to say their goodbyes in a respectful and dignified manner”.