Family of slain Kentwood teen celebrate what would have been her 17th birthday
KENTWOOD, Mich. —
For the first time, we're hearing from the mother of a teenage girl who was found dead in Kalamazoo 10 months ago.
Her accused murderer, Quinn James, is set to go on trial next month. James was found guilty of repeatedly raping Dumbuya in October.
Thursday night, friends and family celebrated Dumbuya's birthday at her grave in Pinehill Cemetery. Dumbuya would have turned 17-years-old. She should have been out celebrating with her friends.
"Thanks Mujey for everything. I'm proud of you. And happy 17th birthday to you," said Fatmata Corneh, Mujey's mom.
A mother shouldn't spend her child's birthday in a cemetery.
"You will always be my first love. I love you Mujey," Corneh said, through tears.
Corneh and her daughter's grave were surrounded by friends and family, bringing some light to a very dark situation.
"Mujey was born into my hands. I remember that day. It was the most beautiful day," said Jainya Sannoh, Mujey's aunt.
Sannoh helped Dumbuya pursue rape charges against James, who was found guilty of those charges last month without Dumbuya's testimony. She was killed before she could speak for herself and James has been accused and is awaiting trial. Sannoh said she will be there for every part of the trial.
"She stood up for what was right, even though it cost her her life. But she stood up for what is right," Sannoh said.
One trial after another is painful for Dumbuya's family. It's hard to hear the details leading up to her death.
"It's a feeling that is very hard to describe. Sometimes I feel like a piece of me is gone," Sannoh said.
A guilty verdict in the rape trial gave Dumbuya's family hope. A guilty verdict in the murder trial would do the same, but it doesn't take away the pain.
"We can get justice, but justice is not going to bring Mujey back. Justice is not going to bring our daughter back. Justice is not going to bring our niece back. But at least it gives us that closure," Sannoh said.
There were a lot of tears and heartbreak Thursday night, but Dumbuya's family made sure to share some joy and happiness, saying it's the best way to honor her memory.