Murdered baby's aunt: 'It makes me sick'

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- The family of an infant killed allegedly by her own father is speaking with 3TV.

"I never would have thought in a million years. Never," said JonnieMae Stevenson.

She shook her head in disbelief and said it's hard to imagine what her 6-week-old niece, Natalyah Bennett, endured on Wednesday.

"She wasn't responding. Her eyes were just rolling. She wasn't responding, and he didn't know what he was doing because he's a first-time parent," Stevenson said about the baby's father, Duryea Bennett.

One day after the death of his young daughter, Bennett made his initial appearance in court on charges of murder and child abuse.

He not only told the judge he is the victim, but also blamed his daughter's death on his lack of knowledge.

"I didn't know anything about CPR, so I started to use my hands ... like maybe hitting on her chest too hard," Bennett told a judge. "I started spanking her on the butt, just maybe, I just don't know."

According to court paperwork, doctors say Bennett's story is inconsistent with little Natalyah's lifeless body at the hospital.

She suffered extensive bruising to her torso and feet, bite marks and substantial head trauma.

Police tell 3TV her father is also suspected of sexually assaulting her.

"It makes me sick, you know, especially a little child ... that can't even defend herself," Stevenson said.

She said it was a horrifying reality. Stevenson said she never suspected Bennett of being violent and never imagined planning a funeral for her infant niece.

Natalyah's mother was working at the time. It was her first day back from maternity leave, family members say.

Bennett remains jailed on $1 million bond. Phoenix police say this is an ongoing investigation and that more charges are possible in the case.

The family has opened a bank account for people who want to donate money for the victim's funeral.

Chase Bank
Natalyah Bennett (Born 8-25-2014)
Account # 331077368

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