The truth about what happened to a still-missing toddler is slowly emerging on day two of the trial against Travis Brown, one of two people accused of murdering Khaleesi Cuthriell, the News Virginian reports.
The prosecution showed graphic photos and video to the court room of an abused child, the News Virginian says. The defense and prosecution are at odds over who abused the child and ultimately caused her death.
The photos and videos were obtained from social media and phone records of 30-year-old Brown and his girlfriend, 42-year-old Candi Royer, who is also accused of murdering the toddler.
One video showed Khaleesi, once an effervescent child with a full head of blonde hair, who by January 2021 was emaciated, bald, and too frail to stand up in the bathtub, the News Virginian states. That video would have been taken shortly before Khaleesi’s death, as investigators believe she died that month. Still photos showed the toddler’s bruised and cut face.
Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Martin said investigators executed 50 search warrants and conducted extensive searches on Brown’s home on Cattle Scales Road, the News Virginian says. Blood from door frames upstairs in the home was determined to be Khaleesi’s.
Amanda Arey, Khaleesi’s mother, trusted Royer and Brown with Khaleesi’s care when she was incarcerated for parole violations, MEAWW originally reported. Arey lost contact with the couple while in prison, then discovered via the news that Royer was missing in September 2021. Augusta County Sheriff Don Smith subsequently discovered that the family hadn’t seen or heard from Khaleesi since January 2021.
Royer, however, wasn’t missing. The News Virginian says that she and Brown were found hiding out in a motel room in Pennsylvania, driving a stolen Toyota Camry, and were subsequently arrested.
The Inside Edition reported previously that the couple had gone on a crime spree that involved stealing a car, passing bad checks, and other drug-related offenses.
“Khaleesi is nowhere to be found,” Smith said of the arrests, according to the Inside Edition. He later announced that Khaleesi “died at the address where Royer and Brown resided.”
At the trial, video from Brown’s interrogation was shown to the courtroom, the News Virginian says. It shows Brown repeating to investigators that child protective services had taken Khaleesi into their custody shortly after she was placed into the care of him and Royer.
However, Shenandoah Valley Social Services employees testified on August 28, 2023 that no records existed of any follow-ups with Royer and Brown, and that child services didn’t even receive notification that Khaleesi had been placed in their care, the News Virginian reveals.
Brown called Khaleesi “possessed” and claimed she liked to be smacked, stating “she fell and smacked her f****** head all the time,” the News Virginian reports.
During the interrogation, Augusta County Sheriff’s investigator Mike Roane confronted Brown with the inconsistencies in his story regarding Khaleesi being taken by child services, and asks Brown to tell the truth about what happened to the little girl, the News Virginian says.
“Kill the camera,” Brown tells him.
WVIR reports that the footage showed Brown telling investigators that Khaleesi had killed herself and he had thrown her body into the trash. Brown also allegedly claimed that Royer had nothing to do with the child’s death.
Brown interrupted the hearing with an outburst, calling former-Deputy Trevor Rexrode, one of the investigators on the case, a liar, WVIR says.
Dana Cormier, Brown’s attorney, admitted there would be a lot of evidence, but maintains his stance that Royer is the one at fault, the News Virginian says.
“Candi Royer physically, emotionally and psychologically abused Khaleesi,” Cormier said, adding that the jury will not be able to determine anything more than that, the News Virginian says. It means, he said, that the jury “won’t know who, what or how or when Khaleesi died.”
“You will be outraged and heartbroken for Khaleesi, but it is your duty to follow the law,” he added.
Tuesday’s hearing also saw the testimony of a woman who claims she had an affair with Brown, WVIR reports. Brittany Southern told the court that during the time they were seeing each other, he admitted to her that he had murdered someone.
The defense accused her of lying to get some leniency for her own prison sentences, WVIR says. Brown’s trial is expected to last all week, while Royer’s doesn’t start until October 16, 2023.
Both are charged with aggravated murder, felony murder, unlawfully concealing a dead body, conspiracy to commit aggravated murder, conspiracy to commit child abuse, and conspiracy to conceal a dead body, Tim Martin announced in May 2022.