Maleah was supposed to grow up in the Kirkwood Landing Apartments area.
"Her nickname was 'Pretty-Pretty.' She was pretty from her head to her toes," said Craig Davis, her paternal grandfather. "Anybody who ever met her or was around her knows she didn't deserve this. No child deserves to go through what she went through."
On May 27, Derion Vence admitted to hitting the 4-year-old with his hand and another object.
SEE RELATED STORY: Man accused of killing Maleah Davis pleads guilty to charges, sentenced to 40 years in prison
Court documents show Vence also admitted to restricting her airways and, when she fell to the floor, he said he provided no help.
"I ain't no killer, bro," Vence told ABC13's Chauncy Glover back in June 2019. "Chauncy, I loved Maleah so much. I did for her more than her own parents. I never had a biological daughter. I would never do anything to hurt her. That's not me. Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you I'm not that type of dude and I was good with the kids."
Vence has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
"Ain't enough time in the day," Davis said, shaking his head. "Justice was not served."
Apartment managers presented Maleah's family with pieces of a mural dedicated to her.
"I was hurt. I feel like it was not enough," said Sonia Parker, an activist. "The justice I wanted for him was the death penalty. I have no pity on people that harm kids, none."
"We always just want Maleah to know that she has family outside of her family -- her community family," added Joe Dinnon, also an activist.
So many who live in the area still think of Maleah often.
"We all knew her. She's our baby girl and always will be. It seems like yesterday," said Jaemy Oliva, who works at the apartment complex.
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