'This shouldn't have happened': Grandmother of toddler killed watches as suspects face judge

TARBORO, N.C. (WTVD) -- Two 21-year-olds charged in the deaths of two children faced a judge Monday morning and later walked out of the courthouse.

Zharia Noel and Ahemene Butler are both charged with child abuse inflicting serious injury and involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of 14-month-old Amariah Noel and 3-month-old Kamryn Noel.

The children were found dead in a parked car in Rocky Mount on Saturday. According to arrests warrants for Zharia Noel and Butler, both children had burned skin, bruises, and marks all over their bodies.

Zharia Noel, the children's mother, and her boyfriend, Butler, were both released on $100,000 unsecured bonds. In court Monday, the judge denied the district attorney's request to change their bond and the two were able to walk out of the courtroom.

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According to arrest warrants, both children had burned skin, bruises, and marks all over their bodies.



The paternal grandmother of the 14-month-old was inside the courtroom and watched as the couple left.

"I'm just so distraught, I'm so hurt because this shouldn't have happened," grandmother Gloria Pullen said. "If she didn't want them, she could have brought them to us. We would've took care of them. We is (sic) a tight-knit family."

The children were pronounced dead at the hospital where Pullen was working at the time. She'd find out later -- through social media -- that one of the victims was her granddaughter.

"I lost it. My son lost it. He was so upset. It took me all night to try to calm him down," said Pullen, who added that she saw the little girl two weeks ago.

On Monday, during the Mayor's State of the City address, Sandy Roberson held a moment of silence.

Neighbors near the crime scene claimed the children and her mother were homeless living on Drew Street. But arrest warrants list addresses for the suspects.

On Monday, a woman at a home listed for Noel told ABC11 that she had no comment. At another house, the person behind the door told ABC11 that Butler was not home.

Many questions remain and police are releasing few details as they wait for the results of the medical examiner's report.

Neighbors told ABC11 on Sunday that they are in pain.

"These are babies. These are kids --- you got people that can't have kids. Give'em. Give'em! Why kill'em?" said Sharon Harris.

The couple is scheduled for a probable cause hearing on May 11. They could face more charges pending the outcome of autopsies.

Neighbors will hold a vigil for the children at 6 p.m. on Saturday.
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