January 14, 2015 Christopher Jay Knapp was arrested on charges of murder and aggravated child abuse. Knapp’s wife of only a few days, Summer Karleigh Everett, was also arrested for the same charges. The victim was Everett’s 20 month old daughter, Dakota Aryn Burke Everett.
Knapp and Everett reportedly began dating in August of 2014. By November of 2014, he was heavily involved in Summer and Dakota’s lives. According to family members, this coincides with the beginnings of signs of abuse towards baby Dakota. These signs included bruises, burns on her hands, bursted blood vessels in the child’s eyes, and a distinct change in behavior. One family member claimed the child did not even want to open presents at Christmastime. Instead, she just wanted to be held. Another family member was said to have photographed some of the physical trauma while Dakota was visiting her father, Mitchell Burke, who was incarcerated in Mississippi.
New Year’s Eve 2014, Summer Everett took her daughter to the emergency department at Providence Hospital in Mobile, Alabama. Everett told hospital staff she found the child unresponsive. Eight days later on January 8, 2015, Dakota passed away at USA Hospital in Mobile, succumbing to her injuries. Dakota had over two dozen injuries including visible bruises and burns, fractured and broken bones, and head trauma.
The couple stood before District Court Judge Bob Sherling for preliminary hearings. Testimonies of the prosecution included that of Sgt. Robbie Riddick of Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, who claimed the medical examiner who performed the autopsy ruled Dakota’s cause of death the result of a fatal head injury.
Before deciding on separate grand jury trials and $170,000 each in cash bonds, the judge reportedly told the courts, “Had these injuries been seen on a prisoner of war, there would have been an international investigation.”
There has not since been any further public information on the status of the trials. However, Knapp is being represented by defense attorneys Glen Davidson and John C. Brutkiewicz of Mobile, Alabama. Baldwin Legal Investigations has been hired to assist with the investigation.