A Pasadena teenager fatally beat his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter because instead of baby-sitting her, he wanted to play video games, an Anne Arundel County prosecutor told a judge yesterday.
In her opening statement, Assistant State's Attorney Laura Kiessling said that DeAndre Anthony Jones, 18, inflicted multiple wounds to the head of Jaysia Lana Larue, who fell unconscious in her mother's Glen Burnie apartment May 13, 2003, and died three days later.
Jones, who was 17 at the time of the Jaysia's death and was living with her mother, Jennifer Veney, was charged as an adult with child abuse death, manslaughter and second-degree murder. He is being tried without a jury by Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom and could be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison if convicted of murder.
He has been in jail since surrendering to police two days after a grand jury indicted him in March. Photos taken of the child's injuries showed bruises to her head, neck, back and legs. A medical examiner ruled her death a homicide from "blunt force trauma."
"What happened at the hands of the defendant to Jaysia simply was not an accident," Kiessling said, contending that Jones "wanted to play Xbox, he wanted to play with his friends."
But Jones' lead attorney, Russell A. Neverdon Sr., told the judge that Jaysia had suffered at least two other head injuries earlier that month that led to the child's death.
Jones was baby-sitting Jaysia, Kiessling said, when he called Veney at work to say the child had fallen into the bathtub.
Veney testified that Jones told her that Jaysia wobbled into the bathroom before falling. Veney, who could not leave work at the time, said Jones called paramedics. The child was flown to Johns Hopkins Hospital with hemorrhaging and swelling in her brain and eyes.
"With limited knowledge and with limited understanding, DeAndre did the best he could" to care for the child, Neverdon said.
Kiessling told the judge that after telling police that Jaysia fell into the bathtub, Jones said the child was injured when he was playing a game of lifting her up and down.
The prosecutor said that upon a search of Veney's apartment, police discovered three dents in a wall of the child's bedroom, one of them containing Jaysia's hair. Her blood was found on her bedding, Kiessling said.
In his opening statement, Neverdon told Caroom that lingering symptoms from a head injury the child suffered May 3 went untreated. Together with other recent head injuries, the damage could prove fatal, he said.
Jaysia suffered a "goose egg" bruise above one of her eyes, Veney testified, after the child hit her head on a steel door while playing at a relative's house May 3, 2003. She vomited four times between that night and the next day and briefly lost the ability to brush her teeth.
But a CT scan taken the same day at North Arundel Hospital showed no brain damage, testified Jennifer Erich, the emergency doctor who examined the child. Another physician followed up twice in the days after and found no problems, Veney said.
Neverdon said in his opening statement that symptoms of a "potential hemorrhage" were covered up because Jaysia was on pain medication.
Erich testified that another injury three days before Jaysia died - Veney said her daughter hit her face on a table while visiting Veney's mother in Pennsylvania - was not connected to Jaysia's death because she had recovered from it.
The doctor also attributed some of the vomiting to flu symptoms that Jaysia was suffering.
The trial is expected to continue through the middle of next week.