Derion Vence, who was charged with tampering with evidence in connection with the death of Maleah Davis, was in family court Friday to sign away his parental rights to Maleah's half-brother, Courtland.
VIDEO: ABC13 caught up with Craig Davis moments after the incident
Before the court proceedings began, witnesses say Vence and Craig Davis, the father, exchanged either words or looks.
Witnesses say Davis then jumped across several tables and attacked Vence who was handcuffed and sitting in the jury box of the court room.
"The person who committed the murder is in cuffs sitting in there, and I don't know what's going on, it's a CPS day apparently in that courtroom," attorney Richard Tholstrup, who was in the courtroom on an unrelated case and saw the attack, told ABC13. "I was sitting there and somebody came in. I thought it was a father, big guy, bigger guy, and he ran across the room and started beating the dickens out of him."
Vence apparently did not want to press charges so no charges will be filed against Davis.
"Everybody agrees that whatever he got he more than deserves. Okay, so even the people who were trying to quiet things down, I'm not saying the sheriff's deputies, but just any lawyers that are in there," Tholstrup said.
The body of Maleah Davis was found in Arkansas on May 31, 2019, after she had been missing for a month.
Vence is in jail, facing a charge of tampering with evidence, namely a corpse.
Vence was once engaged to Birttany Bowens, the mother of Maleah.
Maleah was reported missing on May 4 by Vence, who was her primary caretaker while Bowens was out of town for a funeral.
According to investigators, Vence claimed that on May 3 he was attacked while stopping to check a tire while on his way to the Bush Intercontinental Airport to pick up Bowens. Maleah and Vence's 1-year-old son were with him.
He told police he was knocked unconscious by three Hispanic men, later regaining consciousness 24 hours later in the area of First Colony Mall. His son was with him but Maleah was not. He later entered a hospital in Sugar Land, where he told police that Maleah went missing.
From there, an exhaustive search across Harris, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties intensified in the weeks after the reported disappearance.
In the middle of the search, investigators began disputing the details of Vence's story. Turning their attention to Vence and the apartment where Maleah lived in, authorities obtained surveillance video showing the girl with Vence in the week before her disappearance.
In addition, they found blood evidence in the apartment. Vence was arrested just a week after he first reported the girl missing.
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