Trinity Love Jones, 9, had been bruised and abused for months. When she was finally identified, after her dead body was found in Hacienda Heights partially stuffed inside of a duffel bag, a medical examiner drew multiple diagrams to capture all of her scars.
Recently in a Pomona, California courtroom, Superior Court Judge Mike Camacho ruled there was enough evidence against the girl’s mom, Taquesta Graham, 29, and her mom’s boyfriend, Emiel Hunt, 39, for the state to proceed to trial. Both have been charged with murder and torture and have pled not guilty, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Evidence presented at the preliminary hearing included text messages between Graham and Hunt that allegedly show they had beaten and starved the girl numerous times over a period of months. Trinity developed an infection on her feet that made it painful when she wore shoes.
On Friday, Camacho ruled the case should proceed to trial, noting the evidence showed “systematic abuse and neglect.”
“It’s clear that these were intentional acts and the defendants acted with conscious disregard,” Camacho said, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Investigators read text messages in which Hunt and Graham talked about punishing Trinity for peeing on herself. “Trinity is going to get it,” her mom allegedly texted Hunt during one text message exchange.
In another, Graham asks Hunt to show Trinity the text she has sent: “We were talking about giving you a burrito …you messed up.”
Hunt and Graham told police that two weeks before Trinity died, she had fallen and hit her head. L.A. County Sheriff’s Det. Marc Boisvert testified that the girl had a huge lump on her forehead and both of her eyes were swollen.
Boisvert told the court that Graham told investigators Trinity was congested on Feb. 28, 2019, so she gave her Pedialyte, soup and a bagel, then got in the shower. She said when she got out, Trinity was having a seizure, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Later that day, Graham told detectives, she went to work at a dollar store while Hunt waited for her in the parking lot. Trinity was in the back seat of the car sleeping. She said when she got off work around 9:30 p.m., the three returned to a hotel, and Hunt carried Trinity to the room. Graham said when she checked on her daughter later that night, she wasn’t breathing. She also shares, according to The Los Angeles Times, that she believed that Hunt had placed a pillow over the child’s face earlier that night in the car.
Hunt tells a slightly different story. He told police that when he woke up around 3 a.m. on March 1 and noticed Trinity wasn’t breathing, he and Graham “freaked out” because they both have criminal histories. He further stated that they told each other “we didn’t do anything wrong,” Boisvert testified, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The girl’s body was found March 5, 2019, partially hidden inside of a large duffel bag near an equestrian trail in Hacienda Heights. Police asked for the public’s help in identifying the girl and received thousands of tips, including one from a relative who called police after seeing a sketch and photo of Trinity, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Sheriff’s Det. Louie Aguilera testified that police have the couple on surveillance footage carrying what appears to be a body wrapped in a blanket from the Budget Inn in Sante Fe Springs. They also have video from Walmart showing the couple buying two shovels, a blanket and a lighter and video of them at another store buying a duffel bag identical to the one Trinity was found in.