Case Update: Trial Underway for Mother of Arabella Parker’s Accused Killer

Arabella Parker
Arabella Parker.

First things first: I apologize for the lack of content on the blog lately! Between the podcast, home life, and general stress-induced brain fog, I’ve had a hard time keeping up. 

That said, we have a big update today in the case of three-year-old Arabella Parker, who died at Pennsylvania’s Geisinger Memorial Hospital on November 22, 2019 after several weeks on life support. She was allegedly beaten so savagely by her mother’s live-in boyfriend that part of her brain had to be removed in an attempt to save her life.

A trial date for 20-year-old Jahrid Josef Burgess has not yet been set. He has been indicted on a slew of charges, including criminal homicide, as well as multiple felonies, including aggravated assault; aggravated assault of a victim under 13 by a defendant over 18; child endangerment by a parent/caretaker/other; obstruction; and aggravated assault of a victim under 6 by a defendant over 18. His charges also include two summary counts of harassment by subjecting another to physical contact and multiple misdemeanors, including two counts of simple assault; strangulation; reckless endangerment; and false reporting. 

Jahrid Burgess
Jahrid Burgess.
(The Daily Item)

A criminal motion hearing in Jahrid’s case is scheduled for April 27, 2021 at 9:15 AM in Northumberland Common Pleas Court before President Judge Charles Saylor.

Arabella’s mother,  24-year-old Samantha Jo Delcamp, has been charged with many of the same crimes as her former boyfriend, including criminal homicide. Samantha has been accused of knowing about and witnessing severe abuse of Arabella by Jahrid but not intervening or reporting it. However, there has been some buzz about a possible plea deal between Samantha’s defense team and the Northumberland County District Attorney, Tony Matulewicz. 

Samantha’s next court date is a status conference scheduled to take place at 9:15 AM on April 23. Notoriously, Samantha was arrested after appearing on The Steve Wilkos Show in October of 2019, insisting she did not remove her daughter from the home because Jahrid was extremely abusive and terrified both her and Arabella.

Christy Willis
Christy Willis.
(The Daily Item)

On Monday, April 12, 2021, jury selection began in the trial of Jahrid’s mother, 51-year-old Christy Lynn Willis, who is accused of lying to police about the timing of the incident that caused Arabella’s death. Her charges include felony obstruction and hindering apprehension by providing false information to law enforcement, as well as misdemeanor false reporting. 

During two police interviews, according to Trooper Brian Siebert, Christy falsely told investigators that she was sitting at the kitchen table in Jahrid and Samantha’s rental home in Trevorton, Pennsylvania on October 10, 2019 when Arabella, who was eating a sandwich, fell to the ground in the throes of a seizure, gasping for air. Later in the interview, Christy admitted she was not in the home when Arabella’s seizure began.

Christy, who made the 911 call, sounded “cool, calm and collected,” according to court documents. If she had acted with more urgency, said prosecutor Tony Matulewicz, there was a chance Arabella could have recovered from her injuries.

Arabella Parker
Arabella Parker.

Christy was arrested on October 30, 2019, and has been incarcerated ever since. In March of this year, Christy’s attorney, William Cannon, attempted to have Christy’s $200,000 cash bail reduced without success. Judge Saylor also ruled that Christy’s request for a change of venue would not be discussed until jury selection began. 

After a jury was selected on Monday, including seven women and five men, Christy’s trial began on Wednesday, April 14 before Judge Hugh Jones.

Dr. Paul Bellino testified, saying that when Arabella was brought by ambulance to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, medical staff was not notified about her injuries and were instead told she had suffered a seizure. If they had been aware of Arabella’s abuse, Dr. Bellino said, she would have had a greater chance of survival. 

“Had we known what happened, we would have been able to provide all of the care we could offer her immediately,” Dr. Bellino testified.

The brutal beatings Arabella endured caused at least 46 injuries, which Dr. Bellino described in detail on the stand.

Samantha Delcamp Steve Wilkos show
Samantha on The Steve Wilkos Show.
(The Sun)

Another witness for the prosecution was Samantha Delcamp herself, who testified that she was aware of Arabella’s abuse for at least three months but did not report it, avoiding Children and Youth caseworkers by borrowing Christy’s vehicle. She testified that Christy knew the reason Samantha was borrowing her vehicle and that Jahrid arranged for Samantha and Arabella not to be home whenever a caseworker was scheduled to visit their home.

The reason she did not report the abuse, Samantha told the court, was because she was scared of Jahrid. 

Regarding the evening of Arabella’s fatal injuries, Samantha told the court that she was filling the dishwasher on the evening of October 10, 2019 when Jahrid left the kitchen to see if Arabella was eating as she sat at a little table in another room. When he found she wasn’t, Samanatha testified, he picked up the little girl and pinned her to the wall. Samantha said she attempted to intervene, at which point Jahrid pushed her away and threw Arabella three to four feet toward the couch, but only the bottom half of her body landed on the couch. Arabella’s head, Samantha said, hit the floor. Arabella then stood up and promptly collapsed in a seizure. 

The apartment at 725 W. Shamokin Street in Trevorton, Pennsylvania where Arabella was fatally injured. (Google Maps)
The apartment at 725 W. Shamokin Street in Trevorton, Pennsylvania where Arabella was fatally injured.
(Google Maps)

She did not have a phone, and Jahrid, she told the court, refused to call 911, eventually calling his mother instead, who was a home health aid. Christy arrived shortly thereafter but waited about 30 minutes to call 911. 

Samantha testified that outside the hospital on October 11, she overheard Christy telling her son not to worry, because she would lie to police about being in the home and witnessing Arabella having a seizure.

A CYS caseworker testified that was the story she was told, and Trooper Siebert repeated his previous testimony about Christy’s conflicting stories.

Christy’s defense attorney, William Cannon, argued that Christy didn’t lie and didn’t change her story, other than a few words here and there. At the time of her interview on October 11, 2019, he insisted, his client had been awake for many hours with no sleep. 

Prosecutor Matulewicz countered this by saying Christy had arrived at the Stonington police barracks of her own volition for her first interview. 

The defense presented no witnesses. Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for this morning, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations before noon. I’ll provide an update after they return with a verdict in the case.

Click here for my previous coverage of Arabella’s story, and listen to my twoepisode series about her on Suffer the Little Children Podcast

  • Arabella Parker and her mother, Samantha Delcamp, in December of 2018. (Facebook)
  • Arabella Parker and her father, Karl Parker. (Facebook)
  • Arabella Parker and her big sister, Amanda. (The Daily Item)

Sources: The Sunbury Daily Item, Penn-Live Patriot News

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