Thursday, 16 December 2010

AHT: Georgia: Daryl Keon Jones

December 14, 2010 - 12:00am
Brianna Kichelle Hester was 17 months old when she died May 1, 2009, of blunt force trauma consistent with shaken baby syndrome, according to the autopsy. She was being watched by her mother's boyfriend.
    BRUNSWICK - A 10-year-old boy told and showed Glynn County police how his father repeatedly slammed a crying 17-month-old Brunswick girl face-first onto the floor of their home last year.
    Alijah Jones is expected to be a crucial prosecution witness against his 33-year-old father, Daryl Keon Jones, who went on trial Monday in the beating death of Brianna Kichelle Hester, who died the day after being injured at Jones' Lantana Court apartment.
    The elder Jones has pleaded not guilty to murder, felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children in Brianna's death.
    Jones listened impassively as Glynn County police Sgt. Bill Daras testified that on May 2, 2009, Alijah described and demonstrated how his father hurt Brianna. Police videotaped that interview, but it wasn't shown to jurors Monday morning.
    "Alijah told me he witnessed his father pick Brianna up by the throat and he slammed her forehead into the ground nine or 10 times. He showed me how his father did it, with his hand on the back of Brianna's neck," Daras testified.
    The boy is Jones' only son, and the sole witness to Brianna's injuries on April 30, 2009, Assistant District Attorney Greg Perry told the five-man, nine-woman jury in his opening statement Monday morning.
    Alijah will testify his father slammed the crying baby onto the floor of the family's apartment until she cried no more, Perry said.
    "The defendant is the only one other than Alijah Jones, his son, who saw what happened and he [Alijah] will testify ... " Perry told the jury.
    James Yancey Jr., who is defending Jones, said in his opening statement that his client loved Brianna like his own child and that he never hurt her. Alijah is a troubled boy whose mother, Cynthia Jones, is coaching and manipulating him to implicate his father because the estranged couple are in an acrimonious divorce, Yancey said.
    "The evidence will show Daryl Keon Jones is not the one responsible for this child's tragic death," Yancey said.
    The Glynn County paramedic who was first on the scene testified to Jones' demeanor, and Brianna's maternal grandfather, Glynn Hester, a county police officer, testified that he noticed a bruise on Brianna's forehead while visiting her just hours before she was mortally injured.
    Brianna was the daughter of Kim Hester, who at that time was Jones' live-in girlfriend; Jones was not the father. Hester was in nursing school in Jacksonville when her daughter sustained the injuries. At the time, Jones was baby-sitting Brianna and his three children - daughters, 3 and 5, and Alijah - the police investigation showed.
    The toddler died May 1, 2009, in a hospital when her mother allowed doctors to take her daughter off life support.
    Daras testified he interviewed Alijah after Cynthia Jones called him the day after Brianna died. When another detective and a state social worker interviewed Alijah at the scene after Brianna was rushed to the hospital, he didn't tell them about seeing his father hurt her, Daras testified.
    When Daras asked Alijah why he didn't say anything then, the boy said "he felt intimidated. His father was in the residence and he felt he couldn't say anything then," Daras testified.
    County firefighter/paramedic Jonathan Currier testified he was first at the scene for a 911 call that a baby had fallen and was not breathing. Jones' three children were outside the second-floor apartment, he said.
    He found Daryl Jones inside kneeling with his hands on his knees beside Brianna, who was lying on her back with her head about a foot from a window seat. She was not breathing but had a pulse.
    "He said 'She has to go to the doctor because of her legs. She fell and hit her head and was shaking like this.' ... He was a little detached," testified Currier, who also was a neighbor of the Jones family. "I noticed bruises of varying age on the child's jaw. They were small, round like the tips of fingers."
    Glynn Hester wiped tears from his eyes as he identified a photo taken of Brianna that day. He testified he saw a reddish mark, like a bruise, on one side of her forehead during a visit but had not seen other bruises between her eyes, on her neck, chin and jaw line that were documented in the emergency room and an autopsy.
    The autopsy showed Brianna died of blunt force trauma consistent with shaken-baby syndrome, Perry told the jury. The medical examiner will testify he found 36 separate injuries of varying degrees of severity and that Brianna suffered fatal brain damage, he said.
    An emergency room doctor who treated Brianna, however, will not be allowed to testify as a pediatric critical-care expert. Harrison sustained Yancey's objection that he did not have enough advance notice to properly research the doctor's opinion and get his own expert.
    If convicted, Jones faces an automatic life sentence with eligibility for parole under Georgia law. The trial is expected to continue through the end of the week with recesses for Jones to undergo kidney dialysis treatments., (912) 264-0405

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