By Edwin Crayton
It’s a case that has put Natchitoches in the news from Miami to London, but not in the usual good way the town attracts national or international notice. This much darker news involves the burning murder of an infant on July 17, 2018. On Thursday, January 24, 2019, trial dates were set in an arraignment presided over by Judge Desiree Dyess. The case is State of Louisiana versus Felicia Nicole Smith. Ms Smith, age 26, is fighting a murder charge that alleges she burned to death, a seven-month old baby, Levi Cole Ellerbe. The child’s mother Hannah Nicole Barker,( then age 22) has also been arrested and indicted in connection with the crime. At the arraignment, Ms. Smith pled not guilty. The trial has been set for March, 2020, some fourteen months away. There will be another judicial procedure in April of 2019, but details could not be learned and confirmed by press time and information will be possibly be hard to attain as the court has sealed records relating to this case.
Judge Dyess read the charges which allege that on the night of July 17, 2018, Smith took the baby from Barker’s home in Mayberry Trailer Park. It is also alleged she then took him to Myrtle Street and in an area outside, poured gasoline on him, set him on fire and left him there and went to work. The child was burned on 90% of his body. Despite efforts of emergency personnel and hospital staff and no doubt, prayers of many, the child died the next day, on July 18, 2018. The highly emotional story has attracted wide regional, national and international news media. It was even reported in the Daily Mail, a British Newspaper.