Grandmother speaks out against SLMPD after toddler allegedly beaten to death


by Staff

Posted on February 13, 2014 at 5:19 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 14 at 9:34 AM

( — The grandmother of a little girl who died after allegedly being beaten by her step father spoke out Thursday, saying St. Louis police could have done more to protect her granddaughter.

Brenda Baker said she’s been fighting for custody of Jabria Phillips for months.

Her fight was cut short Tuesday the little girl died after police say her step father, Devonte Evans, inflicted fatal damage when beating her.

Baker, who lived in Detroit, is Jabria Phillips’ paternal grandmother. The Sunday before the child’s death, she took a bus from Michigan to St. Louis.

She brought with her documents from Michigan that she says granted her temporary custody of Phillips.

Baker started the custody fight when she got a letter from Jabria’s mother Shanika Evans saying she could no longer take care of the child.

Thats also how Baker says she got her hands on Jabria’s birth certificate and Social Security card.

“I got the paperwork, caught the bus down here got here on a Sunday morning 3 a.m.,” she said. “I stopped at the police station at Union Station and asked which precinct should I go to.”

Baker said she wanted an officer to go with her to check on the baby, but no one would help. 

“He kept telling me my papers were fake and nothing he could do and so on and so forth yet I’m telling him my granddaughters life is at stake.“

That night, Evans reportedly beat Phillips for stealing a piece of cake. Despite the child showing signs of trauma, police say neither parent sought medical attention until Monday night when she wouldn’t get out of bed. 

She was pronounced dead Tuesday morning. Baker, despite attempting to intervene, was unable to stop the tragedy, and saw the news on TV. 

“All I could do is break down and all I could see is they were at the house and door and the little kid they were talking about is…” she broke down crying. 

St. Louis Police say they are investigating the matter, and released a statement refuting Baker’s claims.

“The victim's grandmother contacted the department regarding a custody dispute,” said a spokesperson for SLMPD. “At no point did she indicate to the officer that she was worried about the safety of the child.”

Just days removed from her granddaughter’s death, Baker wonders if trying to go through the proper channels may have ultimately cost Phillips her life. 

“I don’t need a felony. I don’t need a charge. I had to try and do it the right way,” she said. “But the right way didn’t get me anywhere except here fighting over her dead body.”