MORE: Houston 2-year-old's death officially ruled a homicide
On Aug. 22, an Amber Alert was issued for the toddler who had not been seen since that morning.
Her mother, Sahara Ervin, and her boyfriend, Travion Thompson, told police they left her at the playground outside their southwest Houston apartment while they were inside cooking breakfast. When they returned, the two told police, Maliyah was gone.
"At first, yes," Maliyah's maternal grandmother, Rosalie Jimerson, said during an interview last week when asked if she believed that story. "At first. As the day went on, I really wanted to believe that someone took her."
On Aug. 23, the 2-year-old's body was spotted in Brays Bayou by a jogger. Ervin, Thompson and other members of their families went to the site for the recovery efforts.
Cameras caught Ervin on the ground in the fetal position being comforted by a stranger.
"That's not even my baby, but I took the responsibility and they took it from me," Thompson told cameras during an interview that day.
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A medical examiner ruled Maliyah's death a homicide and said she died from "homicidal violence." Court records indicate an autopsy found that her forearm was broken and she had superficial blunt force trauma appearing as a looped-pattern of bruises all over her body. It is believed the child was beaten with an extension cord or hanger.
Thompson and Ervin were arrested and charged with injury to a child and tampering with evidence less than two months after the child's body was recovered.
"I haven't had any clarity on why it happened," Jimerson said. "I don't know how it happened, but I know that she was in the care of two people who were supposed to have her best interest at heart and they didn't."
ABC13 visited Thompson in jail last week. He still stands by much of what he said during his interview with the media last year. He told ABC13 reporter Mycah Hatfield that fear and the overwhelming number of threats he was getting played a role in some of his behavior.
Several times he said he should not be talking to ABC13 because the last time he did he got in trouble. He continued answering our questions. From behind glass, Thompson said he loved Maliyah but wished he did not meet her mother. He placed the blame on her.
Since being arrested in relation to Maliyah's death, Thompson has been charged with assaulting a guard in jail. He filed a handwritten motion with the court asking for "hybrid representation," meaning he wants to work alongside his public defender. The 22-year-old told Hatfield he has been making lists of questions for witnesses while he has been in jail. He said he has evidence that will prove he did not kill Maliyah.
No trial date has been set for Ervin or Thompson because hearings in their cases keep being reset.
Thompson said he feels really bad for Maliyah's grandmother.
When asked what she would say to Thompson if given the chance, Jimerson said, "I don't think about Travion. I don't talk to Travion. I don't have any words for Travion. I never really have."
WATCH: Grandmother of missing 2-year-old Houston girl begs for her safe return
She said she has not seen the interview Thompson gave as the 2-year-old's body was recovered. Jimerson said it hurts too bad to watch it.
The charge of injury to a child/serious bodily injury carries up to a life sentence.
"I don't want life," Jimerson said. "Everybody deserves a second chance."
Jimerson still keeps in touch with her daughter, Ervin, who remains in jail, although she said they do not talk about what happened. She said they discuss family, memories and try to keep the conversations short.
"I've heard that before... 'I would have just cut all ties with her and have nothing to do with her,'" Jimerson said. "It's not me. It's not my heart. She's my daughter. She came from me. I try to block a lot of things out."
In the last month, Jimerson moved to Dallas where Maliyah is buried. She said she visits her gravesite often.
"I'll go out there and say, 'Tootie' or I'll say, 'Your nana's here' or I'll say her name," Jimerson said crying. "I think she can hear me, so I say her name and it makes me feel better to say her name. I say her name and let her know that I'm here and she's not forgotten."
Jimerson said she still struggles with her granddaughter's death but said she has come a long way.
"The first thing I say when people ask me how I'm doing is, 'I'm doing OK,' but there are times I want to scream and shout and go against God," Jimerson said. "I'm angry. I'm hurting."
Maliyah's grandmother got emotional when asked if she feels any guilt.
"Of course I'll blame myself," Jimerson said. "My family supports me and says, 'It's not your fault. It's not your fault,' but deep down it is. I don't beat myself up as bad as I used to."
Jimerson started a foundation in Maliyah's honor where she provides for families who are in need of food or supplies for their children. She said so far, she has helped four families.
"That makes me feel like even if I only help one person, that's better than none to not go hungry," she said.
For updates on this story, follow Mycah Hatfield on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.