Crime & Courts

Man charged with first-degree murder in 2-year-old’s death

Sly Maples
Sly Maples Courtesy of Kansas Department of Corrections

A 33-year-old man on Thursday was charged with first-degree felony murder and child abuse in the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.

Sly Maples is accused of inflicting the fatal injuries that police have said killed Avry Darnell early Wednesday morning, less than a day after she was hospitalized with a head injury.

Police have said the girl’s 24-year-old mother and Maples took the girl to the emergency room when she fell unconscious after playing under Maples’ supervision at Linwood Park, 1901 S. Kansas in Wichita. The mother told staff that Avry had hit her head on a slide, but doctors determined the girl’s injuries were inconsistent with the story and alerted authorities.

A police document on the case cited “unusual injuries” to the child’s head, “including current and previous brain bleeds” and bruising around her neck. The mother was inside the park’s library when her daughter was hurt and did not witness the injury.

Police this week said Avry suffered a head injury on at least one other occasion. Maples was arrested Tuesday. He had been dating Avry’s mother for about three months. She moved to Wichita last weekend to live with him.

Maples appeared subdued when he made his first appearance in Sedgwick County District Court on Thursday afternoon. Regarding the murder count, the criminal complaint says Maples “unlawfully” killed the girl while engaging in or attempting to engage in “an inherently dangerous felony” on Jan. 20; the felony crime listed in the document is child abuse.

In the child abuse count, the document says Maples did “unlawfully and knowingly torture or cruelly beat” Avry sometime between Jan. 19 and Jan. 20.

“Yes, sir” was the only response Maples gave in court when asked by District Judge Joe Kisner to confirm his identity and whether he understood the charges. His image was broadcast onto a TV via a video link that connects the courtroom to the Sedgwick County Jail, where Maples is in custody. He was dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit.

After advising Maples of the charges, Kisner set his at bond at $500,000. Maples was ordered back to court for a preliminary hearing Feb. 5, although the date will likely be postponed. He will be represented by a court-appointed defense lawyer.

If convicted of first-degree felony murder in Avry’s death, Maples faces life in prison with parole eligibility after 20 years.

A child abuse conviction carries a presumptive sentence of 31 to 136 months imprisonment, depending on the defendant’s criminal history.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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