Ex-girlfriend talks of accused killer’s temper – News – Gaston Gazette


What happened inside a small mobile home in southwestern Gaston County over a three-hour span on a Sunday morning in November 2017 took center stage during Friday’s fourth day of the Marquis Graham murder trial.

The 27-year-old Graham is accused of the murder of Kye Abdul Rashid, the 2-year-old son of Graham’s girlfriend at the time, Ayanha Barnett.

In Gaston County Superior Court on Friday, prosecutors played for jurors taped interviews in which Graham pointed to Barnett discovering the child’s cold body. Barnett said it was Graham who had been left to look over her two boys – Kye and his 3-year-old brother Kaden – while she went to a plasma center in Charlotte.

In interviews with Gaston County Police detectives, Barnett said that as she was leaving the plasma center on South Boulevard at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 5, 2017, she received calls from Graham saying, “Kye is very cold. He keeps dozing off. Kye’s not waking up.”

Upon arriving some 30 minutes later at the mobile home located at 113 Stacey Tucker Circle, she discovered her son was near death.

“His lips were blue, face was cold to the touch, his eyes were not open and he was not breathing,” Barnett had previously testified.

With Graham driving her car and she in the backseat holding her son, they sped to CaroMont Regional Medical Center, but doctors would be unable to revive Kye.

There was significant bruising to the boy’s chest, as well as bruises to his jawline and severe head trauma, including badly swollen eyes. The hospital’s medical staff notified police of a suspicious child death.

An autopsy later showed Kye died of blunt force trauma to the abdomen and had three lacerations to his liver that caused internal bleeding. There was also a large hemorrhage inside his head, extending across nearly the entire cranial vault.

Both Graham and Barnett spoke to detective Matt Sampson at the hospital. Sampson told jurors “obviously we had a lot of questions, we were trying to piece together what happened.”

Graham, who gave Sampson the false last name of “Grant” because of alleged arrest warrants against him, told the detective that Barnett had been home that entire morning and she was the one who actually discovered that Kye’s body was cold. He said he stayed in their bedroom most of the morning and wasn’t around the boys.

When questioned by Assistant District Attorney Megan Rhoden, Sampson said there was “a lot of back and forth” between him and Graham. He said Graham was a “little bit excited” and felt a lot of times he failed to answer the detective’s questions.

“It happened so fast. I just want to know what happened,” Graham said during the interview.

Graham told Sampson he didn’t know how Kye received the bruises, but said he respected Barnett, who he had been dating for nearly a year, and didn’t hit her or her sons.

“I treat them like they’re my own kids,” said Graham, who has four children of his own with two different women.

In her interview with Sampson, Barnett acknowledged while he had never hit her and she had never seen him strike her children, she did say the mothers of Barnett’s children did not want him around his kids. She did not know the reason why.

She also told police of two separate incidents where Graham had gotten angry after suspecting her of cheating.

“Marquis can get a temper,” Barnett said in the taped interview. “I know when he gets mad, he can get really mad.”

She recalled an incident a week earlier when he had punched a wall and door, knocking it off its hinges. Earlier in the trial, Barnett told of how they got in a fight the morning of Kye’s death after Graham had discovered a man’s pocketknife in her car.

And she also spoke of an incident about five months earlier when Kye suffered a broken leg when they were staying at an extended stay motel off North Tryon Street in Charlotte.

On that day, she was at work while Graham, who did occasional work as a painter, was looking after both of her boys. He told her that Kye suffered the broken leg when he fell off a bed while playing with his brother.

“He told me that’s what it was,” Barnett told police. “That’s what I believed.”

The trial resumes Monday when a medical examiner is expected to testify. Rhoden told Superior Court Judge David Phillips that she anticipates the prosecution wrapping up its case about midday Monday. At that point, defense attorney Rick Beam will take over.

The trial is expected to stretch into the middle part of next week.

You can reach Michael Banks at 704-869-1842, email mbanks@gastongazette.com and follow on Twitter @MichaelBanksNC.



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