Former NFL player Cierre Wood, who together with his girlfriend, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of her 5-year-old daughter, La’Rayah Patra Nicole Lamont Davis, appears in court at the Regional Justice Center on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)
LAS VEGAS – A former pro-football player was ordered Wednesday to stand trial on murder and child abuse charges for the death of his girlfriend’s 5-year-old daughter soon after they moved to his Las Vegas apartment this year.
A judge told the former NFL and Canadian Football League running back Cierre Marcelle Wood, 28, that the testimony of a detective, fire department and medical examiner convinced her that the Wood and the child’s mother, Amy Taylor, inflicted bodily injury that caused the death of La Rayah Davis.
“We know who was in that apartment during that period of time,” Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Melanie Andress-Tobiasson said. “We know who was responsible for the ultimate and untimely and horrific death of this child: the Lord of the Wood, and Mrs. Taylor.”
Andress-Tobiasson rejected as “ridiculous”, a bid by Wood’s lawyer, Thomas Ericsson, to throw out the murder are responsible for the lack of direct evidence that Wood was responsible for the girl’s fatal injuries.
“There is simply no evidence that rises to his conduct in connection with this murder charge,” Ericsson said.
The minister, however, was that the prosecution met the standard of “slight or marginal” evidence needed for the 19 child abuse charges before a jury.
The judge cited photos of numerous external bruises and autopsy findings that La Rayah had 20 new broken ribs, internal bleeding, a lacerated liver and bruises on her heart, the diaphragm and the connective tissue.
Taylor and her daughter moved in with Wood and his young daughter on the 27th of March, and Andress-Tobiasson said La Rayah must suffer before she died almost two weeks later, on 9 April.
“She is 5 years old,” the judge said. “It is difficult for me to even conceptualize.”
Wood, who played for the University of Notre Dame for NFL stints with Houston, New England and Buffalo, is being held without bail pending his arraignment next week Tuesday in the court of the state. He could face up to life in prison if he is convicted. His lawyer said Wood will plead not guilty, but declined to comment outside the court.
Taylor, 25, is imprisoned and faces a separate preliminary hearing Aug. 5. Her lawyers looked at the Wood of the hearing and declined to comment afterward.
Detective Jessica Rogers testified that Wood said he spanked the girl when she was problematic, but Taylor rejected so he turned to exercise as a discipline, and had La Rayah do sit-ups and other exercises, such as running sprints in the apartment. He called it “learning through fun.”
Wood, who was released by the Montreal Alouettes in Canada in May 2018, told detectives that La Rayah complained about chest pains and lost her appetite in the days before she died, but that she was strong and could with a lot of pain, Rogers testified.
The day that she died, La Rayah, “a point she could no longer do a sit-up,” Rogers said. Wood told the police he moved to La Rayah shirt forward and when he let go, she fell backwards and hit her head on the carpeted floor.
Wood said that he could tell La Rayah was injured, called Taylor and had his daughter call 911, Rogers said. Taylor, a certified nurse’s aid, told the police that she was in the store at the time.
Paramedics reported La’Rayah respond at Wood’s apartment. She died in a hospital.