Updated: Waveland man charged with capital murder in toddler's death
By Dwayne Bremer
Dec 10, 2013, 21:26
Oren Lewis was arrested for capital murder on Monday
A Waveland man was arrested Monday for capital murder in the August death of his daughter, 23-month-old Ma’leah "Gracie" Bush.
Waveland Police Detective Eddie Peterson said Monday that Oren Lewis, 32, was charged with capital murder.
Lewis, a former college football player at Pearl River Community College and Louisiana Tech, was apparently at his Amar Street residence with the child on the evening of August 25.
Lewis and the child's natural mother were not together at the time of the incident, family members said Monday.
Originally, Lewis told police that Ma'leah had fallen out of a bed while asleep.
She was transported to Children's Hospital in New Orleans with "massive head trauma," and succumbed to her injuries two days later Peterson said.
Peterson said WPD has conducted an extensive investigation into the death during the past four months.
WPD Chief David Allen had previously said that investigators were waiting on autopsy and forensic reports to return before classifying the death as either accident or a homicide.
After receiving all of the reports, police now believe that Lewis was responsible for Bush's death, Peterson said.
Lewis was arrested without incident at his home about 6:30 a.m. Monday.
He was transported to the Hancock County Jail and his bond was set at $1 million by Municipal Judge P.J. Mauffray.
Lewis' arrest has been met with a wide range of emotions.
Many friends and family have been quick to come to his defense on social media saying they believed the crime was "out of character for him" and that he was not capable of hurting his own child.
Family members of Bush's mother, however, said Monday that they are happy an arrest was made and they are hopeful "justice will be served."
"I know this will not bring Gracie back, but today is the best day we have had in four months," Ma'leah grandfather Richard Gable said Monday.
In Mississippi, capital murder occurs when a person commits a murder in the commission of another felony.
Police said the underlying felony in this case is child abuse.
Capital murder is potentially punishable by the death penalty.
A tentative date for Lewis' preliminary hearing has been set for Jan. 16.
It is unclear if he has yet retained an attorney.