Crime & Courts

Hearings postponed in death of El Dorado toddler

The preliminary hearings for an El Dorado woman and her boyfriend, charged in the death of her 18-month-old daughter, were postponed Wednesday until next month in Butler County District Court.

Alyssa Haag, 23, and Justin Edwards, 29, have been charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jayla Haag.

Jayla died at Wesley Medical Center on March 30, more than a week after her mother brought her to a pediatrician’s office at Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital in El Dorado with severe injuries. The pediatrician examined Jayla and then took her to the hospital’s emergency room, El Dorado Police Chief Tom Boren said after the court proceeding.

Haag told the pediatrician her daughter’s injuries occurred when she fell down a flight of stairs in the apartment she shared with Edwards, Boren said. But doctors determined the toddler’s injuries were not consistent with a fall down stairs, so they notified police.

Jayla was transferred to Wesley and eventually removed from life support.

Butler County District Court Judge David Ricke postponed Wednesday’s preliminary hearing at the request of Butler County Attorney Darrin Devinney, who said he still has not received the autopsy report. The coroner is waiting for results of forensic tests, he said.

Devinney said he is also awaiting reports from local law enforcement officials.

Ricke moved the hearings for Haag and Edwards to June 5 and ordered Devinney to have the autopsy report and other reports to the defense attorneys by May 29.

Ricke denied a request by Edwards, through his attorney, David Moses, to have his bond reduced from $500,000 to $100,000, calling the charge “an extraordinarily serious crime.” Haag also remains jailed on $500,000 bond.

The case has stirred strong emotions in El Dorado, as well as a Facebook page called “Justice for Jayla” that has more than 3,800 members. Two people in the gallery Wednesday wore “Justice for Jayla” T-shirts, and at least one other person wore a ribboned pin with the child’s photo on it.

Acknowledging the strong emotions connected with the case, Ricke warned gallery members against applause or verbal outbursts at future court proceedings. Should the case proceed to trial, he said, the “Jayla” T-shirts will not be allowed in the courtroom.

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