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2-Year-Old Girl Kept Alive as Parents Fight Over Organs

Thaiya Spruill-Smith died after stepfather allegedly shook her
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 17, 2014 2:45 PM CST

(Newser) – Thaiya Spruill-Smith was declared dead Friday night, two days after her stepfather allegedly shook her violently. But the Brooklyn girl remains on life support as her parents fight over her organs: Mom Teoka Spruill wants them donated, while dad Terrell Smith doesn't want his daughter's body cut up and "desecrated," the New York Times reports. "She was born with that, she’s going to be buried with that, her body, her eyes—it’s what makes her her," Smith, 26, tells the paper. "My daughter was born with that, and she’s going to lie down with the same thing." But Spruill paints him as an absent father who didn't care much about his daughter until Spruill, 25, married David Adams, also 25, last spring. Adams has been charged with assault, and could see those charges upgraded to murder.

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But all of that is on hold as Thaiya's parents fight over how to proceed. At a family court hearing today, Spruill was expected to argue that she has proof she had sole custody and can thus decide what happens to Thaiya's organs. But Smith insists he fought for custody, and says he told officials this summer that he worried she was being abused. They investigated in September, during which time Thaiya stayed with her maternal great-grandmother, but she was ultimately returned home. The following month, Smith kept Thaiya at his own mother's house for two weeks—she cried because she didn't want to return home, he says—and ended up arrested over it; Spruill got an order of protection against him after claiming he threatened to kill her. (Read more organ donation stories.)

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