Autopsy for child abuse victim Kilah Davenport cites pneumonia, complications from assault

Kilah Davenport died in March from injuries sustained in a May 2012 beating.
Kilah Davenport died in March from injuries sustained in a May 2012 beating. 2012 OBSERVER FILE PHOTO

An autopsy report released Thursday on 4-year-old child abuse victim Kilah Davenport showed that the girl died in March of pneumonia due to complications of head injuries from the assault by her stepfather.

Diabetes also contributed to her death, according to the report. Kilah did not have diabetes before the May 2012 assault in her Indian Trail home, her grandmother Leslie Davenport said.

Kilah’s stepfather, Joshua Houser, was convicted of the assault in late February, a couple of weeks before Kilah died. He was sentenced to a minimum of 93 months and a maximum of 123 months in state prison.

Leslie Davenport said the report’s release made for a very emotional day.

“It’s not getting any easier,” Davenport said. “Kilah is not here, and she was taken by the hand of another person. Hopefully, he’ll have to serve more time.”

Union County District Attorney Trey Robison said Kilah’s death remains under investigation.

He said his office needs to fully review the new report. Robison also plans to meet with the man who performed the autopsy, Dr. Jonathan Privette, and confer with law enforcement colleagues, before deciding whether additional charges will be brought.

During the attack, Houser rammed Kilah’s head through a wall in a fit of rage. She nearly died at the time, suffering a fractured skull and damage to 90 percent of her brain. She was left severely impaired.

But she did attend the trial, sitting with her mother, Kirbi Davenport, and was present when the verdict was read after less than six hours of deliberation.

Kilah weighed 23 pounds when she died, according to the autopsy. She stopped breathing while sitting on her mother’s lap.

after Houser’s arrest, Kilah’s family was upset over the amount of prison time he faced. They joined local lawmakers and community activists to push for “Kilah’s Law,” which increased sentencing terms for five child-abuse-related felonies.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law last year.

And in May, President Barack Obama signed the federal Kilah Davenport Child Protection Act into law. It directs the U.S. attorney general to issue a report detailing each state’s penalties for child abuse, including whether the laws provide enhanced penalties in cases of severe child abuse.