Malachi had a chromosomal abnormality that caused him to have seizures several times daily. After a lengthy investigation, Gaston County police charged Cheeks with the murder of the child on November 2, 2015, and he confessed, but he recanted that confession in testimony during his trial. At the time he confessed, Cheeks admitted to striking the child when he had a seizure.
Tiffany Cheeks was also arrested and charged with felony child abuse and accessory after the fact to murder. She entered a guilty plea to those charges in exchange for an eight-year prison sentence. During her husband's trial, she asserted his innocence in the death of her son, one of three young children in the home. When he died, Malachi weighed just 19 pounds. The judge said the couple starved the child to death.
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