The Jefferson City woman accused of causing the death of a 4-year-old Jefferson City boy a year ago has now been charged with second-degree murder in the case.
Court records show Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson filed what is known as a superseding indictment in the case against Quatavia Givens, 26.
She had originally been charged with one count of child abuse for allegedly abusing Darnell Gray while babysitting him. She pleaded not guilty to that charge.
"Essentially it's amended information about the case," Thompson said. "We took the case before the Cole County Grand Jury, which was meeting on Tuesday, and they found there was enough evidence to indict her on these new charges."
Because the hearings before a grand jury are closed to the public, Thompson couldn't say why he upgraded the charge, only that, "evidence led us to believe this was the most appropriate action to make. It also gives us the best chance to get justice for Darnell Gray. Additional evidence has been reviewed, and we evaluated it and made this determination based on that."
Along with the second-degree murder charge, Givens is also charged with abuse or neglect of a child and endangering the welfare of a child.
Givens initially reported Darnell was missing to authorities, saying she thought he might have been abducted, which triggered a week-long search that ended with authorities finding the boy's body last October. Authorities said Givens later admitted she had injured the boy, and an autopsy showed he had suffered multiple injuries caused by blunt force trauma.
As of Tuesday evening, court records did not indicate there had been any changes to Givens' earlier bond conditions. On Oct. 9, she posted a $5,000 bond.
Cole County Judge Jon Beetem considered the potential risk of Givens not appearing at trial and the risk to the community at the time, but he noted "the specific circumstances of the crime charged, however heinous, does not suggest the risk of repetition."
The judge denied a request by the prosecution to continue to hold Givens on a high-dollar bond.
She had been in the county jail for nearly a year.
Conditions of her bond included electronic monitoring, remaining at home with no minor children present who are not her own, and travel limited to and from her court hearings.
Currently, the case is set to go to trial in July with a jury from Johnson County in western Missouri to hear the case.
"Now that we got through the grand jury process, while you can never be certain, I feel we'll be ready to go to trial in July," Thompson said.
Meanwhile, a candlelight vigil on the one-year anniversary of the recovery of Darnell's body is scheduled for Wednesday. The group Missouri Missing is holding the event at 5 p.m. at Washington Park and the public is invited to attend.