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story.lead_photo.caption Quatavia Givens talks to her public defender Thursday, March 21, 2019, during a bond hearing at the Cole County Courthouse. Givens has been accused of child abuse contributing to the death of 4-year-old Darnell Gray. Photo by Sally Ince / News Tribune.

A judge from Rolla has been ordered to hear the case of a Jefferson City woman charged in the 2018 death of a 4-year-old boy.

Judge William Hickle serves in the 25th Judicial Circuit, which serves Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Texas counties.

This week, the Missouri Supreme Court appointed him to preside over the case of Quatavia Givens, 28, who was the caretaker of 4-year-old Darnell Gray, who was found dead in 2018. Givens was indicted Aug. 25 on charges of first-degree murder, child abuse or neglect, endangering the welfare of a child and abandonment of a corpse in connection with Gray's death.

According to online court records, the high court sustained a motion from Cole County Prosecutor Locke Thompson for the special judge as all judges in the Cole County circuit have either recused themselves or been disqualified from hearing the case.

During a brief hearing in September, Judge Cotton Walker granted a request from Givens' defense team for a change of judge. The case was sent to Cole County Presiding Judge Jon Beetem for assignment. Beetem ordered the jury be chosen from Pulaski County and they be brought to Cole County when the case goes to trial.

Prosecutors said Gray was injured while Givens babysat him in Jefferson City. She reported him missing Oct. 25, 2018, and stated he might have been abducted. Authorities found Gray's body a week later. An autopsy indicated he died of blunt force trauma.

Givens was previously free on bond with pre-trial supervision before the new charges were filed in August. She was arrested in St. Charles after the new charges were filed and was transported back to Jefferson City, where she is being held without bond at the Cole County Jail.

Thompson said the new case was filed based on new evidence and added the release of Givens would be inappropriate.

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