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Suspect in beating death of child in Miami seemed evasive

By Sheila Stogsdill Modified: June 10, 2008 at 1:46 pm •  Published: June 10, 2008

MIAMI, OK - Investigators testified Tuesday that a man accused of fatally beating a 15-month-old girl was evasive and distant when questioned about the child's death.

Travis Gerald Steed, 31, of Seligman, Mo., is charged in Ottawa County District Court in Miami with first-degree murder in the Feb. 26, 2006 death of McKenna Jayda White.

McKenna's mother, Catherine Jean White, 30, of Goodman, Mo., is also charged with child neglect.

McKenna was found dead in her playpen at a motel in Miami where Steed and White were staying. White had left McKenna with Steed while she went to Missouri to pick up her other children.

The toddler suffered blunt-force trauma to her face and head, and she had a five-inch skull fracture, a medical examiner's report stated.

In a photograph showed to the jury of McKenna, the toddler's face appeared to have bruising.

Todd Hicks, a Miami detective, testified Steed seemed evasive when authorities questioned him.

"I picked up on some verbal and non-verbal deception," Hicks said under cross-examination by Kurt Hoffman, Steed's attorney.

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