LOS ANGELES – A murder charge was filed Wednesday against the mother of 9-year-old Trinity Love Jones, whose body was found partially inside a large duffel bag near an equestrian trail in the Hacienda Heights area.
Taquesta Graham, 28, was extradited from Texas to California last Thursday. She was initially held without bail for an unrelated parole violation; but on Monday she was booked on suspicion of murder for her daughter’s death, and she was formally charged Wednesday, March 20, officials said.
In 2016, Graham was convicted of enticing a minor for prostitution in San Bernardino County, according to the criminal complaint. She faces a possible maximum sentence of 26 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Graham and her boyfriend, Emiel Hunt, 38, are accused of killing Trinity on or about March 1, according to the criminal complaint.
The girl’s body was found about 10 a.m. March 5 at the bottom of an embankment close to Colima Road and the 3400 block of Hacienda Boulevard. County workers clearing some brush came upon the body, which was partially inside a black rollaway-type duffel, with her head and upper body protruding from the partially zipped bag.
As sheriff’s homicide detectives investigated the girl’s death, Hunt and Graham were stopped about 6 a.m. March 8 in Hunt’s black Nissan Armada SUV at a border checkpoint in Hudspeth County, Texas. Graham was arrested on a parole violation, and Hunt was initially released but was arrested the following morning after being found sleeping in his SUV in a lot near San Diego International Airport. Investigators have not revealed how they learned he was in San Diego. Hunt was booked on suspicion of Trinity’s murder on March 9 and he was formally charged on March 12.
The complaint against Hunt alleges he has a 2005 conviction for child abuse with great bodily injury in San Diego County. Hunt is jailed in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting arraignment on April 16. He could face up to 55 years to life in state prison if convicted, prosecutors said.
Graham, Hunt and Trinity moved from a family member’s home in Long Beach in May and during the past 10 months their extended family had limited contact with them, according to the sheriff’s department.
They were homeless just prior to the girl’s death and were living in a Santa Fe Springs motel or in their vehicle, officials said.
Investigators announced earlier that they believed Trinity’s body had been left along the equestrian trail within 48 hours of being found, but since then have come to believe she had been left at the scene during the afternoon of March 1.
“There were no open or active Department of Children and Family Services cases involving Trinity,” officials said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn has said there are “several red flags in Trinity’s life that need to be followed up on” and she vowed to “get to the bottom of what could have been done, if anything, to prevent her death and the suffering she undoubtedly endured.”
The coroner’s office has ruled Trinity’s death a homicide, but officials have not said how the girl died and the case is on a security hold.
Trinity’s father, Antonio Jones, told NBC she was “full of character, full of love, full of joy.”
“We just want answers,” he said. “We want justice.”
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