by: Mark Barber Updated:
SALISBURY, N.C. - A Salisbury woman accused of killing a teen after injecting her with silicone faced a judge for the first time Wednesday morning.
Officers said Kavonceya Cornelius, who has been charged with second-degree murder, was giving her customers dangerous and illegal shots of non-medical grade silicone.
(Click PLAY to watch reporter Mark Barber's update from outside the courthouse)
Police started to investigate Cornelius in February when an out-of-state woman said she had received silicone injections 15 times, according to a search warrant.
She paid $500 to $1,200 for each injection.
The woman, who now has serious health problems, notified police on Feb. 13.
Salisbury police Capt. Sheila Lingle said police also learned about 19-year-old Eugene Jones, also known as Symone, of Fayetteville, who was transitioning from a man to a woman, and went to Cornelius for silicone injections.
Police said Jones went to Cornelius’ home on Union Heights Boulevard for an injection and died Jan. 12 in Fayetteville as a result of the procedure.
“This person was sick and said they had injections at this residence by this person,” said Lingle.
Police said they found that Cornelius had been conducting the medical procedures with non-medical-grade silicone.
Salisbury police said they found syringes, cell phones and computers, after returning with a search warrant last month.
Cornelius was charged Monday with second-degree murder.
Jones' family was at the courthouse Wednesday, and it was an emotional scene as the 19-year-old’s mother collapsed into the arms of relatives outside the courtroom, crying uncontrollably.
Cornelius quickly mouthed something to people sitting nearby her as she walked out in her orange jail jumpsuit and handcuffs.
Prosecutors said Cornelius was charged with second-degree murder because she knew her injections would put Jones in danger.
According to attorneys, one of her customers from the South Carolina/Georgia area became sick in November after she gave them silicone shots. When that person was rushed to the hospital, prosecutors said Cornelius went to visit them for a few hours.
According to prosecutors, that customer was hurt so badly they will likely never heal. That's why they said Cornelius knew the risk when she agreed to give Jones silicone injections later.
Elisha Avery believes that Cornelius, her sister, is innocent, but "the attorney has instructed us not to make any comments,” she said
Neighbors never suspected any suspicious activity at Cornelius’ home.
“I'd never have suspected anything like that,” said Joanne Fields. “Somebody shouldn't die trying to be what they want to be because of somebody else's negligence.”
Sandra Harmon, Jones’ mother, talked to Channel 9 about the loss of her daughter.
Jones was born a boy, named Eugene, but always wanted to be a girl, the mother said.
“If he wanted to identify as a woman, I supported him,” Harmon said. “I had no idea who was doing it, but I discouraged him from going to out-of-market people.”
Cornelius will be back in court for her next hearing on April 5. If she is convicted of second-degree murder, she could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
If Cornelius posts her $100,000 bond, she will have to wear an electronic monitor. She cannot leave Rowan County and she cannot perform any more procedures.
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