DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Twanka Davis appeared in court visibly pregnant to plead guilty in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Tanaja Barnes.
Davis pleaded guilty to first degree murder and received a 20 year sentence as part of a plea deal. She will have three years of supervised release following that prison time and must serve 100 percent of her sentence.
Davis will also have to register as a violent offender against youth. To find out about what could happen with Davis' future baby, WAND-TV talked with DCFS. Find that story at this link.
Police said Davis's daughter, Tanaja, was dirty, unresponsive, and wrapped in a urine soaked blanket when she was found.
Her body temperature was too cold for emergency responders to measure when they arrived on the morning of Feb. 11 at the house in the 1800 block of E. North St.
They described the home as filthy, with sinks and toilets filled to the brim with waste water. Officers documented "the overwhelming smell of urine, feces, and rotten food/garbage," in the house. There were signs of rodent and bug infestations. The interior temperature of the home was 45 degrees.
Officers said the toddler would be kept in her room as punishment if she did not nap or misbehaved. They said she could not get out of her room unless she was let out.
In Tanaja's room, police found a toddler mattress on the floor with no sheets or blankets, empty bottles, debris that had been chewed by rodents, and feces.
A window pane was broken in the home’s southeast bedroom and never fixed, causing the house to take a long time to heat.
Davis told officers the furnace in the house worked properly, but that she had turned it off the night before Barnes was found dead.
Police said Davis told them she did have a heater in her daughter's room, but took it out and used it for herself when the heater in her own room stopped working.
She said she would give Tanaja food, but would not make sure she was eating.
An autopsy on the child showed physical neglect, malnourishment, dehydration and cold exposure. Her weight was 21 pounds.
Davis' live in boyfriend Anthony Myers, who is not Tanaja's biological father, is also charged in the case and has a court appearance on Wednesday.
Rep. Sue Scherer, a lawmaker who sponsored legislation calling for DCFS overhauls following Barnes' death, issued a statement Friday:
"What happened to Ta’Naja Barnes was a tragedy, and it laid bare DCFS’ failure to put her needs and her safety first. After many hearings and input from child welfare advocates, we now have a new law, which I sponsored, that is inclusive of many areas including requiring DCFS to conduct a full safety check before a child is ever returned to a home where abuse or neglect occurred. For the sake of all children, we must continue to keep a close eye on DCFS’ operations and ensure no tragedy like this ever happens again."