In January of 2015, Melinda's trial began. Melinda was 26 years old as her trial began and was facing life in prison without parole, she had plead not guilty. A jury of six men, eight women and two alternates would hear the eveidence and then decide if Melinda was innocent or guilty and then decide her fate depending on their verdict.

The trial began on January 27, 2015 with Prosecutor Zeke Fortenberry giving statements about three different stories Melinda had given in reference to what had happened to Grace. Melinda first said that an intruder broken into the apartment, then she said she had amnesia and was not able to remember what happened, then she said that while they were doing a craft project, Grace must have put the duct tape on her own mouth. One thing was clear to Detectives and that was that Melinda had not once asked how Grace was doing in the days after and she only referred to her as "some little girl" or "some girl that I babysat", while the investigation was happening, she never called her by her name even though it was said that Grace called Melinda mom:

"Plano Police caught her in lie after lie after lie"
Zeke Fortenberry

Robbie McClung was the Defense Attorney in the case and he said that things were not as they seemed, not as "cookie cutter" as the Prosecutors wanted the court room to believe:

"They want you to connect the dots for a pretty picture. I may open
your eyes to some things they don't want to deal with"

First on the stand was Diane Williams who had received a call from Mitch who said he had been on the phone with Melinda when he heard the phone hit the floor and then he heard screaming. Testimony about Police arriving and Mitch letting them into the home then took place:

"When I realized the door was locked, I realized the bad guy was still in the
apartment. I saw a female lying on the living room floor, two bar stools knocked
down on the right hand side and a red chair turned over on the side where the
females feet were. The female was lying on the rug in front of the couch right
next to an overturned coffee table, face down. Her pants and underwear were
pulled around her ankles"
Officer David Waddell

A search revealed that no one was in the home who didn't belong there. David Waddell said that when he rolled Melinda over and took the duct tape off of her mouth, he eyes were fluttering as though she was trying to keep them closed and that was when she yelled to get him out of there saying that "he" was a white man wearing a black jacket and boots. Officer Camille Bowie said that she tried to talk to Melinda who was moaning and writhing on the ground, she asked her to sit up and tell them what happened:

"She took a big breath and kind of gently fell to the floor as if she had
fainted. Her eyes were kind of fluttering like she was trying to keep them
shut forcefully. There's no movement in the eyes and body when someone
faints, if you really faint, you're not going to gently place yourself. I felt
like it wasn't genuine"

Melinda said that she had been on the way to get her engagement ring sized and she remembered she didn't have the ring with her so she went home and an intruder was already there:

"She said he kept hitting her, but I didn't see any visible injury. There was
no real emotion on her face, I couldn't see any real duress"
Officer Camille Bowie

Officer Antonio Arrendondo found Grace in her bed, facedown, wearing only a shirt, she was not responsive and when he rolled her over, he found duct tape on her mouth and she had no pulse:

"I picked up Grace and put her in my arms, pulled the duct tape off and laid
it on the bed. Her eyelids were turning color and her lips were blue and purple.
She did not have a pulse. I held her close to my face to see if I could feel any
breath and started doing chest compressions"

It was took late, Grace was already dead. Grace was taken to The Medical Center Of Plano, arriving at about 2:07 p.m. after remaining unresponsive during the eight minute ambulance ride. Dr. Richard Honaker said that Grace had been unresponsive, pale, not breathing and had dilate pupils and as a catheter was being inserted, it was noticed that she had bruising and blood in her vaginal area, Grace was transported to Children's Medical Center for sexual assault evidence collection:

"I believed Grace had been sexually assaulted"

A CAT scan showed swelling in her brain and a V shaped abrasion was seen on her back, the jury saw the injuries to her vaginal area and were told that she was in critical condition when she was transported:

"Even on discharged she was a very critical patient. We had certainly improved the
situation, we had gotten her heart beating and she seemed to have more cerebral
activity, but she was still extremely critical"

Mitch took the stand to tell speak about his relationship with Emily Reeves Ward, Grace's mother. They had dated for seven years starting in 2001, while they were in high school. Mitch joined the Army after he graduated and went to Iraq in 2005, they married in 2009 just before he was deployed a second time. Mitch testified that their marriage was in trouble and Emily was having trouble with alcohol and prescription medication. The couple divorced and then when she found out she was pregnant, they got back together for a short time. Grace was born on February 24, 2011 and Mitch was given full custody in 2013.

In September of 2012, Mitch had met Melinda at the place where they both worked and they began to date, moving in together in January of 2013. Melinda quit her job and was the full time care giver for Grace, Mitch proposed to her in December of 2013. Mitch said that on January 8, he was trying to put Melinda's phone on silence when he found racy pictures and videos that Melinda had sent to another man and the next day, he told her the relationship was over:

"As I was getting read for work, I let her know I found stuff on her phone.
It wasn't a big argument or anything, I said it wasn't going to work and called
off the engagement. She was kind of unemotional, like it wasn't really a big
deal. There wasn't a fight. I provided everything for her. I told her she had a
week to move out. She could keep the engagement ring and sell it and keep
the car to drive around and look for jobs. She didn't cry, she didn't appear angry"

Mitch left work around 11:45 a.m. and started looking for nanny for Grace and tried to call Melinda, she didn't answer:

"I was worried about Grace, honestly. Melinda normally doesn't not
call or text back"

Melinda finally called back around 1:30 p.m. saying she had just gotten home and that's when he heard the phone drop. Mitch saw Grace at the hospital:

"She looked horrible. She was in a neck brace and hooked up to a bunch of
machines. She was unconscious"

Mitch went to visit Melinda and then went back to the hospital, sleeping in his truck in the parking lot until three days later, Grace was taken off of life support and died. Mitch said that after that, he started drinking, a lot. A few days later, Mitch met with Melinda who said she didn't remember him and that she had amnesia. Mitch said he had left Grace with Melinda that day so that her routine would be the same:

"That's what hurt me most about the breatkup, it's not just me, it affects
my daughter too"

Mitch kept in contact with Melinda in an attempt to get answers about what happened, he even wanted to wear a wire at one point. When he visited her in the hospital, Melinda said she felt like she had lost her soul.

Detective Cathy Stamm had interviewed Melinda and those tapes were played in court and then a woman's health Nurse Practitioner testified that she had done a sexual assault assessment on Melinda:

"Other than verbalizing, I saw nothing to indicate sexual assault. The
defendent didn't seem emotional, was pretty quiet and cooperative"
Nurse Practitioner - Deborah Davis

It was noted that while there were no physical signs of sexual assault, that didn't mean it had not happened.

Detective Beth Spillman testified that while a search was done, zip ties were found underneath the couch and in Grace's room, duct tape and scissors had also been found. Melinda's phone was found and pictures of her in lingerie, a bikini and videos were found in which she was doing a strip tease. A text sent from Melinda to Mitch at about 11:55 a.m. that day said: "I love you so much" to which Mitch responded: "So when do you want to move out".  A conversation took place in which they discussed nanny's for Grace and then some calls and texts went unanswered before Melinda finally called him back.

Detective Bill Washington said that computers searches had been done for duct tape, kill, Benadryl, suffocate and staging. Of course the Defense said those searches could have been done by anyone with access to the computers they were found on. A Dollar Tree was able to confirm that Melinda had been in the store at 12:56 p.m. that day and she bought duct tape, nylon cable ties, kitchen shears and cotton swabs, video was shown to back up what the store Manager had said.

On the third day of the trial, January 29, Melinda's voice could be heard on tape saying that she freaked out when she found Grace unconscious in her bed with duct tape on her mouth. Melinda said that the items she bought at the craft store were for a craft project she planned to do with Grace. Melinda said that when she started the vacuum, Grace must have been afraid, ran to her room and put duct tape over her own mouth, not hearing her after that, Melinda went to check on her and found her unconscious:

"I know I did the wrong thing, I could have helped her. She was lying there,
she put tape on her mouth. I think she got scared. I thought she was sleeping"

Melinda said she got scared about what Mitch was going to think so she staged the apartment to look like someone had broken in, saying he would never forgive her. The Detective told Melinda that he thought Mitch would forgive her if it truly had been an accident, but she needed to tell the truth;

"Science was our friend in this. I need the truth. I think you put the duct tape on her
mouth. A little girl wouldn't put duct tape on her mouth to where can't breathe"
Detective Chris Jones

Melinda said that she wore gloves when she had removed part of the tape on Grace's mouth just a little bit so see if she was okay and when she wasn't, she put the tape back over her mouth, gathered up the items from the dollar store and taken them to the dumpster.

A key fob had noted that Melinda had come home at 1:18 p.m., a call to Mitch took place at 1:36 p.m. and that gave her 18 minutes to fabricate her story, stage the apartment and hit herself on the head with a pan:

"I see somebody who snapped for a couple of minutes. Someone who got
frustrated, that's what the evidence tells me. Everything points to that you
snapped and made a horrible decision"

When asked about the relationship ending, Melinda said:

"I was sad, but I was giving him time to get over it"

Detective Chris Jones stopped her from speaking, giving details that he felt were inconsistent and noting that the time between the 911 call and the Police arriving had been about six minutes, not enough time for someone to sexually assault two people:

"I'm going to be straight up honest with you, there are issues with your story.
You brought up that Grace had duct tape on her when that was never mentioned.
How did you know if you were unconscious"

"You keep playing this game, Mindy, and the entire world is going to see
you as an evil monster who killed this little girl. It looks like this was intentional"
Detective Robyn Busby

Chris Jones asked Robyn Busby to leave the room and the tape continued in a more empathetic way:

"If you didn't intentionally do this, then you accidentally did. I don't want to walk
out of this room and tell people you're a cold blooded killer. People make
mistakes all the time"

When Melinda said she didn't know if it was accidental or intention, Chris Jones Relied:

"Yes you do. If you ever go before a court, a jury, people are not going to buy this
story. This isn't Florida, this is Collin County, Texas. The first night you came and
talked to us, you told us everything we needed to know. You were at Dollar Tree
40 minutes before. Will you tell us what happened"

Melinda said that she could not tell the truth about what happened because Mitch would never forgive her adding that it really didn't matter at that point because she had already been arrested. Detective Jones told Melinda that in order for people to have closure, they need to know the truth and that most people will understand if she had made mistakes, she asked him:

"If it was a mistake, then what now"

His reply was:

"Until this happened, you took great care of Grace. People need closure and
you're the only one who can do it. I like to see that you are emotional about
this. Emotion shows me that there is a heart left"
Detective Chris Jones

Melinda told Chris Jones that she was not trying to get attention, that she had not snapped:

"If I tell the truth, no one will believe it. I'm not lying about most of it, there's
some things I really don't remember. There wasn't an escalation or anything.
I'm going to be in jail forever"

A tape of Melinda speaking to her mother was played and Bridget Muniz took the stand at 4:00 p.m., Bridget said that Melinda had asked her if she has talked to Mitch to which she said:

"His daughter is dead because of you. I'm not going to talk to Mitch"

Bridget said that she and her family were in fear that Mitch might try to get back at Melinda by hurting them and that she was upset when she heard the arts and craft story:

"I don't know if a jury is ever going to believe that, Mindy. If she couldn't breathe, she
would have taken it off. Tell the truth, Mindy. You did it, you did the cover up. They're
going to push that it wasn't an accident. This is Texas, they could go for death"

Criminalist Supervisor Michelle Boubel took the stand having been the one who processed the crime scene. A solution called Gentian Violet was used to find fingerprints. On the piece of duct tape that had supposedly been put on Melinda's mouth, a lip and fingerprint impressions were found. A roll of duct tape had been found in the cabinet above the stove, though no identifiable fingerprints were found on any of the duct tape.

On January 30, day four of the trial was taking place. Dr. Kristen Reeder of the REACH Clinic (Referral and Evaluation of at Risk Children) was on the stand speaking about her examination of Grace. While examining Grace, Dr. Reeder said that she had found a tiny blood clot which showed a nonspecific, inconclusive finding for a sexual assault having taken place adding that other factors sucah as hygiene, potty training and insertion of a catheter could have caused what was found:

"She had been intubated and was unresponsive which tells me she had
significant brain damage already. The fact that she was laying completely
still and un-sedated indicated a severe brain injury"

A strange injury, in the opinion of Dr. Reeder, was the V shaped bruise on Grace's right shoulder. Grace was said to have a sever hypoxic brain injury that was caused by a lack of oxygen and on January 11th, Doctors had done a brain death test and the results were that there was no brain activity and no blood was flowing into her brain, on January 12th, Grace was declared brain dead. Dr. Reeder said that suffocation had caused the brain injury:

"By age two or three children breathe with their nose and mouth. A normal
two or three year old would be able to remove the duct tape. If a child had
a runny or stuffy nose and was unable to breathe out of her mouth, it could
possibly lead to suffocation due to insufficient oxygen intake"

Dr. Joni McClain performed the autopsy and said that a cause of death for Grace was homicidal violence including suffocation adding:

"The area around her hymen was a little hemorrhagic, there were no tears or lacerations"

Based on what she saw, Dr. McClain could not determine if Grace had been sexually assaulted. Some of Grace's organs were donated so that other children could live.

Jill Cramer and Barbara Leal were the Senior Forensic DNA analysts and each would testify in the case. Jill Cramer said that vaginal and anal swabs from Melinda tested positive for semen matching Mitch's DNA. DNA found on a zip tie had been conclusive that it had come into contact with both Melinda and Grace while there was no DNA found the zip tie in the living room or the duct tape in the kitchen. The duct tape in the living room and DNA from Grace and Melihnda and the duct tape on Grace's bed had only Grace's DNA on it, which indicated that Melinda had told the truth about wearing gloves

It was said that Melinda had said, contradicted what was seen in the home since things didn't appear to have been thrown around, they seemed to have been placed where they were. The zip ties were said to have been used as "tiny baby handcuffs", though Grace's hands were free when she was found. The V shaped mark was thought to have been made by the kitchen shears as when Melinda held Grace down and they pressed into her skin. The shears were never found since so much time had passed and the dumpster had been emptied.

It was said that Grace might have sat down to take her shoes off and Melinda then grabbed her and took her to the bedroom, suffocated her and then went around staging the scene, it was also said that the duct tape was placed on her mouth after she died.

On day five, the jury was given instructions on their deliberations and on February 2, 2015 after about 45 minutes the jury came back with a guilty verdict. Melinda Lynn Muniz was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, for the death of Grace Lillian Ford.

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