Father, daughter enter not guilty pleas in cult-related starving case

Calvin and Najlaa McIntosh were both arraigned Tuesday morning, entering not guilty pleas to murder and other charges connected to the cult-related starving death of a 13-month-old girl.

#Their other alleged victim — and the key witness against them — was back in the hospital.

#The McIntoshes, who are father and daughter and believed members of the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors cult, have both been in the Gwinnett County jail since November, when they were arrested after taking young Tyanne Alcenti Sweeting to the hospital. Police believe Calvin McIntosh had ordered Najlaa to starve the infant and her mother, Iasia Sweeting, as punishment inside the Peachtree Corners motel room where they lived.

#Tyanne Sweeting died and Iasia Sweeting, 21, weighed just 59 pounds when Gwinnett County police arrested her alleged captors.

#Najlaa McIntosh entered a not guilty plea in front of Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Melodie Snell Conner on Tuesday morning. Her father ultimately accomplished the same thing, but Conner had to enter a plea for him.

#“(Calvin McIntosh) wasn’t giving a response,” Assistant District Attorney Rich Vandever said, “and he had told his attorney not to give a response.”

#Under law, a defendant remaining silent or refusing to enter a plea simply means their case will move forward to a jury trial.

#While all that was happening Tuesday, Iasia Sweeting, the starved 21-year-old found in the motel room, was battling more medical complications. Sweeting’s mother, Elvis Morgan, said the young woman had been hospitalized since Friday due to an abscess in her jaw, and that she was receiving some much-needed therapy as well.

#“She’s doing great,” Morgan said. “She’s doing more walking and a little more talking. Just a little at a time.”

#Najlaa McIntosh is charged with murder, attempted murder, false imprisonment and aggravated battery. Calvin McIntosh is facing all of the same charges, plus incest and rape — the result of his alleged sexual relationship with Najlaa, the believed mother of two of his children.

#Both McIntoshes were indicted in late January, a week or so before District Attorney Danny Porter told the Daily Post that he would not pursue the death penalty against either. Porter said he did not seriously consider the possibility for Najlaa — who “is being as cooperative as she can be under the circumstances” — and cited potential “evidentiary complications” in convincing a jury to send Calvin to death row.

#A trial is likely still months away.