Crime & Courts

Aunt and friend charged with murder in death of Kannapolis 15-month-old

The aunt of a 15-month-old Kannapolis girl who authorities say was beaten to death in January, and the aunt’s friend, were charged Monday with murder in the case, police said.

Alisha Nicole Carlisle, 20, and John Travis Turner, 30, were charged by Kannapolis police about two weeks after authorities received the results of an autopsy of Malaya Faith Heun.

Malaya died Jan. 21 at Carolinas Medical Center, two days after authorities said she was beaten in her home on Running Brook Drive in Kannapolis. The girl’s mother, Christy Heun, was at work at the time.

Heun told police that Carlisle, her sister, was baby sitting Malaya. Turner has been identified as a friend of Carlisle.

Kannapolis Police Chief Woody Chavis, who had been pressured by the toddler’s relatives to make an arrest, said investigators wanted to make sure they had “all the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed” before pressing charges.

Chavis said charges were filed after a recommendation from District Attorney Brandy Cook. Prosecutors earlier had said they were waiting for results of an autopsy, which was released May 21. That autopsy said Malaya died of injuries that were consistent with a child who had been beaten.

In February, police said Malaya died of trauma to her intestines.

“We have been confident all along that this case would be closed and the persons would be identified and held responsible for this horrendous crime,” Chavis said. “I made a promise that we would get justice for little Malaya.”

Both Turner, who already was in Cabarrus County jail on unrelated charges, and Carlisle were charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse and assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury.