(Memphis) Police have upgraded the charges against the man accused in the beating death of a 3-year-old girl.
Tony McKinney is now charged with murder in the death of Ciriyah West.
Saturday, West’s family met to make funeral arrangements for the toddler police say was killed by her McKinney, her mother’s boyfriend.
“I used to love hear her say, my name is Ciriyah, nice to meet you,” said Bettie Woodall, the child’s grandmother.
Spirited, sweet and spunky is how 3-year-old Ciriyah West’s family will always remember her.
“To watch your baby lay in the bed and gasp for her last breath until she couldn’t gasp anymore, that’s the most hurtful thing,” said Woodall.
The last two weeks, Ciriyah’s family stayed by her bedside at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, wearing blue bracelets on their wrists so they could see her.
“I don’t want to take it off, but I know eventually I’m going to have to. That will be like saying goodbye,” said Woodall.
Police say Ciriyah was beaten so badly, her kidney and liver was slashed, her bladder ruptured and her brain shifted.
“I’m on a roller coaster ride. I have my moments when I think about him. What could she have possibly done to you to do that to her?,” expressed Woodall.
“No child should ever experience what my baby experienced,” said Ciriyah’s mother, Cassie West.
McKinney was part of the family. He watched Ciriyah every morning. But now McKinney is Ciriyah’s accused killer. He’s also the father of the baby her mother is expecting in January.
“I’m not going to take my feelings toward him out on this baby. I’m going to love this baby just the same as I loved Ciriyah. I’m going to teach this baby everything that I taught Ciriyah.
Just a month ago, the family celebrated the toddler`s birthday.
Now, they are planning her funeral for next Saturday, but the family can’t afford it. Cassie just lost her job from having to call off work to be with Ciriyah.
Her family says they just want to bury her in a way that would make the toddler look down from heaven and smile.
“The last two weeks of her life she didn’t rest, I want her to rest. I want to put her away to rest nicely and I want her to rest,” said Woodall.
If you would like to help Ciriyah’s family with the funeral, call Ford Funeral Home at 901-345-6075 and ask to speak to Brenda Beck.