Arundel teen found guilty in death of 3-year-old

Conviction in killing of girlfriend's child could result in 30-year sentence

February 03, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A teenager was convicted yesterday of killing his girlfriend's daughter in the Glen Burnie apartment the three shared, a death that prosecutors contend was an annoyed baby sitter's reaction to a sick child soiling her underwear.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom found DeAndre Anthony Jones, 18, guilty of manslaughter and child abuse resulting in death in the May 16, 2003, death of 3-year-old Jaysia Lana Larue. He could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison.

After four days of testimony without a jury, Caroom said he believed that on May 13, 2003, an exasperated Jones shook the 30-pound child, grabbed her by one arm and one leg, and flung her onto her bed and into her bedroom wall with such force that a strand of her hair stuck to the dented drywall.

The judge cleared Jones of second-degree murder, saying, "It is not clear to me in doing that it was the intention of Mr. Jones to kill Jaysia."

"I think child abuse resulting in death was the appropriate finding of guilt," Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling said. The maximum sentence for the murder conviction would have been the same as for the child abuse conviction, and she will seek the full 30-year term, she said.

Defense lawyer Russell A. Neverdon Sr. had maintained that Jones called 911 after Jaysia collapsed in the bathroom. Two head injuries she sustained during the 10 days before had not been properly treated, contributing to her death, Neverdon said.

Caroom heard detailed medical testimony, in which doctors said that the bleeding in and around the child's brain could have been caused only by high-velocity shaking and that her head hit the wall with the power of a car crash.

Jones' mother, Carolyn Crandell of Pasadena, said the verdict shocked her.

"I don't believe my son would do [something] like that," Crandell said.

Jones was a student at Glen Burnie High School. The three moved in together shortly before Jaysia's death. He was indicted 10 months later.

Kiessling said Jones had difficulties with Jaysia, that the child appeared reluctant to stay with him and that he hit her with a hairbrush a day before inflicting the injuries that caused her death. The judge said he was unsure whether the child was struck with the brush.

The prosecutor said Jones wanted to play video games and be with his friends. Instead, he was minding a child who was not feeling well and soiled her underwear.

At 2:38 p.m. and 2:40 p.m, Jones called Vesey to tell her to leave her job as a sales clerk because Jaysia was ill. He called 911 at 2:45 p.m. The judge also noted that key parts of Jones' statement contradicted the evidence. Jones said the child fell in the bathroom, but police did not find her blood there. They did find her blood in her bedroom.

Neverdon said Jaysia got a goose-egg lump on the forehead while playing on May 3, which led to internal head injuries, compounded by a bruise near her right eye the next weekend. She was vomiting on May 12, a possible sign of a head injury, he argued.

Caroom said the child appeared to have recovered from any previous bumps.

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