4:00 PM PDT, August 20, 2021
Julissia Batties died of blunt force abdominal trauma, and her death has been ruled a homicide, the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner told Inside Edition Digital. The 7-year-old was found unconscious in her mom’s apartment in the Bronx last week and declared dead at the hospital, just months after being allowed to live with her mom again, Julissia’s loved ones say.
“Something like this happens … it makes you feel so powerless,” said Jalissa Jacob, a friend of the family.
Jacob told Inside Edition Digital that she knew Julissia when she was under the custody of paternal grandmother Yolanda Davis, and saw her frequently at Davis’ Brooklyn apartment. Davis told her she has been taking care of Julissia from days after she was born, when her mom Navasia Jones lost custody.
Jacob said she remembered the day Davis took Julissia home from the hospital.
“I was walking through the park and I saw her grandmother had her in a stroller at the park and I was like, ‘Whose baby?’” Jacob said, recalling making a joke that she and the newborn shared a similar name. “If you know her, you know she loves her grandkids.”
Jacob said Julissia would have barely known her mom, except for the few times they saw each other at group gatherings or parties.
“She’ll have little visits or if there was a function she’ll come, but that was right about it,” Jacob said. “It would just be like a stranger. She’ll be quiet and shut down. More so [keeping] to herself,” Jacob recalled of Julissia’s interactions with her mom. “She wouldn’t be happy to see her or anything.”
Davis said she allowed Julissia to spend the weekend at her mom’s one weekend in March 2020, and Julissia was never returned to Davis’ home in Brooklyn. A supervisor with the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) said Julissia would stay with her mom at the Michel Houses, an affordable housing complex, in the Bronx on an extended visit, “because of the pandemic,” Davis told WPIX.
That may have been the first time Julissia had ever spent the night with her mom, Jacob said.
“She never used to really like to talk about her mom,” Jacob said, “If you asked me, it was like she didn’t exist to her because she spent so much time with her grandmother.”
Julissia was not allowed to see her grandmother during the time her mom had custody of her, Jacob said, and Davis had been going through the courts to try to regain custody of her granddaughter.
“I’ve tried my hardest to regain custody of her to have a normal life,” Davis said in a statement on GoFundMe. “Due to the pandemic there was limited resources, assistance and unfortunately the courts were closed and my voice fell on deaf ears.”
The medical examiner said blunt force abdominal trauma is what ultimately killed the 7-year-old.
Davis told WPIX her granddaughter suffered old abdominal injuries as well.
Jacob said when she went to the Mitchel Houses a few days ago, neighbors told her they recalled seeing bruises on Julissia in the days before her death. “She told one of the neighbors, ‘My mommy did it,’” Jacob claimed.
Jacob now hopes whoever is to blame for Julissia’s death is brought to justice. “I do hope that she has some sort of justice and they don’t just push it to the side,” she said.
An ACS spokesperson told Inside Edition Digital, “Our top priority is protecting the safety and wellbeing of all children in New York City.”
Jones, Julissia’s mother, did not respond to Inside Edition Digital’s request for comment. No one has been charged in relation to Julissia’s death. Authorities are continuing to investigate the incident, the NYPD told Inside Edition Digital.
ACS is working with the NYPD to investigate.