Jacksonville father pleaded guilty to murder in the 2017 death of his infant daughtersa

On May 6, 2019, Traquan Curtis pled guilty to second-degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious injury in Onslow County Superior Court.  The defendant received a minimum of 254 months and a maximum of 317 months for second-degree murder and a minimum of 84 months and a maximum of 113 months for felony child abuse with the sentences to run consecutively.

The State was represented by Assistant District Attorney Kaelyn Avery and the defendant was represented by Walter H. Paramore, III. The presiding judge was The Honorable Judge Phyllis Gorham of New Hanover County.

The evidence showed that on September 22, 2017, Jacksonville Police Department Detective Julia Parrish was contacted in reference to the death of Izidora Roshanda Curtis.  “Izzy” was born on December 3, 2016, which made her approximately 9 months old on the date of her death. Her biological parents were Camri Dowdy-Curtis and the defendant, Traquan Curtis (DOB: 1/16/96). The family of three resided in Jacksonville.

On the day of Izzy’s death, she presented with both of her parents at Onslow Memorial Hospital in apparent respiratory distress. Izzy was airlifted to New Hanover Regional Medical Center where she coded during transport, and despite extensive resuscitative efforts in the NICU, she was pronounced dead at 20:43 hours.

Detective Parrish spoke with Ms. Dowdy-Curtis briefly at the hospital and asked what had been going on at the time of the incident. Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised she had been getting ready for work that morning, and she went to check on Izzy. She gave Izzy a bottle of formula, turned on cartoons, and left the room. During this time, the defendant was on the computer. Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised that when she returned to Izzy’s room, Izzy was “laid out” on her back in her crib and had thick mucus coming out of her nose. She advised that she began CPR and continued while the defendant drove them to the hospital.

JPD Detectives went to the family’s residence to photograph the scene and conduct a death reenactment using a SUIDI doll.  Dr. Gilliand conducted an autopsy on September 26, 2017. The cause of death was determined to be blunt force trauma to the head/neck, and the manner of death was determined to be a homicide.

The injuries noted during the autopsy were extensive and included traumatic injury of the head and neck, blunt or compressive injuries of the trunk and abdomen and blunt force injuries of the extremities.

On November 8, 2017, Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised the Jacksonville Police Department that she separated from the defendant on October 13, 2017, and believed the defendant had “done something to her baby”. She indicated that in the days immediately prior to Izzy’s death, she noticed that Izzy’s right wrist was swollen and Izzy was not using the arm. She stated that the defendant told her he grabbed Izzy’s arm to “pop her” and she moved. Ms. Dowdy-Curtis advised the defendant frequently grabbed Izzy and popped her on her hip/upper leg area. He would yell at Izzy “you need to stop crying; I’m your dad, and you need to stop treating me like a stranger.”

A warrant was issued on December 13, 2017, and the defendant was extradited from Connecticut and transported on December 20, 2017.

The Defendant told law enforcement that he began shaking Izzy and yelling “why are you crying”. Using a doll, he demonstrated shaking Izzy approximately three times, possibly as many as five times. He stated while he shook her, her head was dangling, bobbing back and forth. He heard a pop but didn’t know exactly what it was. He advised he heard her making gurgling noises in her throat while he shook her. It looked like she was gasping for air, and her eyes were shut. When she opened her eyes back, she looked at him and covered her ears. He put her in her crib where she rolled to her side and faced the wall, still covering her ears. He finished his conversation with Vance, made himself a hot pocket, and started to worry maybe he “had done that a little too rough.” When he returned to check on her, he noticed she was breathing heavily and believed she was knocked out. He picked her up from her crib and she was limp with her arms dangling. He called Ms. Dowdy-Curtis. He advised as they drove to the hospital, he knew Izzy was taking her last breaths, but he didn’t say anything about the shaking because he didn’t think that was the cause of it.

On January 24, 2018, the defendant sent a letter to Ms. Dowdy-Curtis from the Onslow County Jail, which she provided to Detective Parrish. In the letter he recounts his actions that lead to Izzy’s death writing, “She was crying non-stop and it got louder and louder all of a sudden I got very frustrated. I shook her the way I would shake a grown man.” He continued, “I wouldn’t have thought I was the reason for Izzy’s death. I cared for her just as much as you did Camri like damn stop looking at me as a bad person.”

NC Fifth Prosecutorial District Attorney Ernest Lee stated in the press release today,
“This was a particularly tragic and senseless crime and the defendant deserved a substantial active sentence.  Far too many young children are the victims of abuse and homicide in this nation.  This was just another tragic incident that occurs far too often in this county, state, and nation.”

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