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Mom, boyfriend charged with murder in 1-year-old girl's beating death

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Little Journey Ann Cowart was dead at 1-year-old.

And officials said on Monday it was her mother and her mother’s boyfriend who beat the infant to death. The couple have been arrested and remained in the Bartow County jail Tuesday, a day after the sheriff's department announced they were being charged with murder.

Ms. Brandy Boyd, 25, and Mr. Austin Payne, 24, were originally charged with child cruelty and aggravated assault, but an autopsy concluded that the child was murdered and their charges was upgraded, Bartow County Sheriff’s Clark Millsap said.

“This autopsy uncovered numerous injuries of abuse all over the child,” Sheriff Millsap said. “Some of those injuries included a fractured skull, blunt force trauma to the stomach, and healed broken ribs and femur.”

The investigation began on Jan. 21 when Ms. Boyd and Mr. Payne carried the infant into the Cartersville Medical Center emergency room. She was not breathing.

A short time later a doctor declared her dead after failing to revive her.

Investigators found bruises on the child and searched the family’s Cartersville home that night. Two days later, the GBI’s medical examiner’s office conducted an autopsy where they found numerous injuries on the child, officials said.

That Thursday, the couple was arrested and charged with cruelty to children and aggravated battery.

Investigators have now added felony murder to those initial charges after officials ruled that the child had been killed.

Neither the sheriff’s office nor the Division of Family and Children’s Services had any previous involvement with the couple regarding allegations of abuse, Sheriff Millsap said.

“I love what I do, but that’s the part that makes it hard,” the sheriff said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This little girl has no more chances, she’s out. Rest in peace.”

Journey’s father, Mr. Blake Cowart, was found dead in the Etowah River in May 2013, more than a month after he was reported missing, the AJC reported.

The funeral for Journey was held Monday afternoon at The Church at Liberty Square in Cartersville.