Mother, boyfriend plead not guilty in 2-year-old Nevaeh Allen's murder
BATON ROUGE - A couple accused of beating a toddler to death and then faking the girl's disappearance was formally charged with her murder Jan. 27 and plead not guilty Feb. 7.
Court records show a grand jury indicted Phillip Gardner and Lanaya Cardwell, each on a count of second-degree murder, in the death of 2-year-old Nevaeh Allen. Gardner also faces a charge for obstruction of justice.
The pair was arrested in September after a sprawling search for the missing girl ended with her body being found inside a suitcase in a wooded area of Mississippi. Cardwell initially claimed Nevaeh vanished from her Baton Rouge apartment, but police later uncovered that Gardner dumped the 2-year-old's body after he found her unresponsive at their home.
Cardwell and Gardner were later accused of physically abusing the 2-year-old girl, leaving her with grave injuries that ultimately killed her.
Both are currently jailed in East Baton Rouge on $375,000 bonds.
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