Autopsy: Kilah Davenport died of pneumonia, cites complications - | WBTV Charlotte

Autopsy: Kilah Davenport died of pneumonia, cites complications from attack

UNION COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

An autopsy completed on a three-year-old girl severely beaten by her step-father in May 2012 shows she died from pneumonia due to health complications from the attack.

WBTV obtained a copy of the Medical Examiner's report into the March 2014 death of Union County girl Kilah Davenport.

Kilah died at Carolinas Medical Center Northeast, in Concord, in March.

The autopsy, which was started on March 14, lists Kilah's cause of death as "Complications of Blunt Force Head Injuries due to Assault."  The final report was signed off on June 25.

WBTV spoke to Kilah's grandmother, Leslie Davenpoert about the report. She said she wasn't surprised to read the findings, but that it brought the pain of losing Kilah right back. 

"It's like losing her all over again, or her being injured all over again. It's not going to bring Kilah back but we are grateful for the work that has been done by the detectives and by the Medical Examiners Office," Davenport said. 

Davenport said Kilah was at home with her mother when she took "two funny breaths." Her mother began performing CPR and called 911. They then rushed the young girl to the hospital, but she soon passed away.

She would have turned five in April.

Kilah's stepfather, Joshua Houser, was convicted in February of felonious assault, two weeks before the young girl's death. 

A jury found Houser guilty of throwing the little girl into a wall, and leaving her with severe brain damage. He will serve at least eight to ten years behind bars.

In a section of the autopsy that references injuries, the report refers to Kilah as "emaciated."

It lists Kilah's skin as appearing to be "very thin," and says her ribs and vertebrae were prominent. She also had an "overall appearance of dehydration."

"There is obvious skull deformity with bilateral concavities at the anterior calvarium," the report states.

The report also notes injuries on her chest which are consistent with efforts to resuscitate her.

"Based on the history and autopsy findings, it is my opinion that the cause of death in this case is pneumonia due to complications of remote blunt force head injuries due to an assault," the Medical Examiner wrote.

"Diabetes contributed to this death. Dysphagia, altered mental status, and debilitation are well known risk factors for the development of pneumonia. Likewise, infection is a well reported precipitating factor for the development of diabetic ketoacidosis."

Houser's trial lasted nine days and jurors deliberated for four hours before returning the guilty verdict. He has always insisted that he didn't do it.

So what does this report mean for the case? Could Houser face more charges, Davenport says she doesn't know.

"I am hoping that they can bring more charges, but that's up to the DA and the detectives and the good Lord. All I can do is just wait like everyone else," Davenport said. 

WBTV reached out to the Union County District Attorney's Office. They released a statement saying: "The death of Kilah Davenport remains under investigation. No decision regarding any further charging of Joshua Houser will be made until the Union County District Attorney's Office has had the opportunity to fully review the autopsy findings, consult with the autopsy physician, and confer with our law enforcement colleagues. There is no further comment at this time."

In May, President Barack Obama signed a child abuse legislation, named after Kilah, into law. The legislation was crafted to make sure states across the country are taking child abuse seriously – was signed into law by President Obama Tuesday.

Congressman Robert Pittenger, of North Carolina's Ninth District, filed Kilah's Act in 2013.

The legislation requires the US Attorney General to issue a state-by-state report on child abuse prevention laws within six months, with a particular focus on penalties for cases of severe child abuse.

That report is due to the U.S. Justice Department by November.

The goal, officials say, is to highlight deficient laws and provide states with the opportunity to fix those laws before another tragedy occurs.

Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC, introduced the legislation in the Senate.

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