Huntington couple sentenced to life in prison in death of 3-year-old boy

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HUNTINGTON. W.Va. (WSAZ) – UPDATE 11/13/17, 2:35 p.m.

A Huntington couple will spend the rest of their lives behind bars after being convicted in the July 12, 2016 murder of a 3-year-old boy.

Mariya Jones and Aaron Miles were in court Monday for a reconsideration of sentencing hearing in the death of 3-year-old Jayden Jones.

The sentences for both did not change after the jury's recommendation of life without parole.

The two were found guilty in September on second-degree murder and murder of a child by a parent, guardian and custodian charges.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse, and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect earlier in the case.

"This was just an intentional killing, as the jury put it, of a 3-year-old by two parents," Cabell County Prosecutor Sean "Corky" Hammers said in September.

The state medical examiner confirmed the child was severely abused.

Another doctor helping with the case said the 3-year-old boy was tortured.


UPDATE 9/21/17, 10:10 p.m.

A couple accused of causing the death of a 3-year-old child was sentenced to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

That was the judge's ruling Thursday evening after the jury returned a verdict of guilty of second-degree murder.

Thursday evening, the jury recommended life with no mercy in the sentencing. Circuit Judge Paul Farrell upheld that recommendation.

They'll have reconsideration of sentencing Nov. 13.

Mariya Jones and Aaron Miles were also both found guilty of murder of a child by a parent, guardian and custodian.

"Jurors heard and saw evidence that was just brutal as to what these defendants did to this 3-year-old child," prosecutor Sean "Corky" Hammers said.

"It wasn't like it was a surprise," defense attorney Kerry Nessel said. "It was pretty bad. The pictures were dreadful. I believe my client. I still believe him. I really do. I think his soon to be ex-wife is the one who inflicted these injuries on Jayden. My client had some culpability. He sure did."

Attorneys on both sides said it was one of the most horrible cases they've seen.

"This was just an intentional killing, as the jury put it, of a 3-year-old by two parents," Hammers said.

"It's the worst I've seen," Nessel said. "Nothing is even close."

A LaRock hearing was held following the verdict for the jury to determine whether they'd recommend mercy.

During the hearing, both the mother and stepfather attempted to convince jurors they were not responsible for the boy's death, but the jury was not persuaded and recommended no mercy.

The couple was arrested in July 2016 after Jayden’s body was found at their home along 7th Avenue in Huntington.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse, and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect earlier this month in the case.

The state medical examiner confirmed the child was severely abused.

A doctor helping with the case said the 3-year-old boy was tortured.

Miles testified on his behalf Tuesday. Jones did not testify during the trial.


UPDATE 9/21/17, 4:50 p.m.

Jury deliberations are underway in the murder case of a 3-year-old boy.

Aaron Miles, along with Mariya Jones, are charged with murder in the death of Mariya's son, Jayden Jones.

The couple was arrested in July 2016 after the boy's body was found at a home along 7th Avenue in Huntington.

Closing arguments wrapped up Wednesday. Miles testified on his behalf, but Jones did not take the stand during the trial.

The couple was arrested in July 2016 after the boy's body was found at a home along 7th Avenue in Huntington.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse, and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect earlier this month in the case.


UPDATE 9/20/17, 3:20 p.m.

Jury deliberations are set to get underway Thursday in the murder of a 3-year-old boy.

Aaron Miles, along with Mariya Jones, are charged with murder in the death of Mariya's son, Jayden Jones.

The couple was arrested in July 2016 after the boy's body was found at a home along 7th Avenue in Huntington.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse, and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect earlier this month in the case.

A week of testimony wrapped up Wednesday afternoon with closing arguments. The jury was then sent home for the day and will begin deliberating the case Thursday morning.


UPDATE 9/20/17, 11:05 a.m.

The defense has rested in the case involving two people charged with the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Aaron Miles, along with Mariya Jones, are charged in the death of Jayden Jones.

Miles took the stand Tuesday and answered questions from his defense team, Jones' defense lawyers and from state prosecutors.

Judge Paul Farrell read instructions to the jury Wednesday morning.

Closing arguments are expected to heard Wednesday.

Mariya Jones and Aaron Miles are charged with first-degree murder and murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect earlier this month in the case.


UPDATE 9/19/17, 10:45 p.m.

A man charged with the death of a 3-year-old boy took the stand Tuesday afternoon.

Aaron Miles, along with Mariya Jones, are charged in the death of Jayden Jones. Miles answered questions from his defense lawyers, Jones' defense lawyers and from state prosecutors.

Miles told jurors when he found Jayden, he started CPR and said Jones did nothing to help. He told jurors that while he was doing CPR, Jones was putting makeup on Jayden's body to cover his bruises and scars.

Testimony will continue Wednesday when Miles will be back on the stand.

Jones has declined to testify.


UPDATE 9/18/17, 4:30 p.m.

The case involving a couple charged with the death of 3-year-old boy is nearing an end.

Mariya Jones and Aaron Miles are charged with 1st degree murder and murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian.

According to Judge Paul Farrell's office, Miles is scheduled to testify Tuesday. Jones declined to testify.

After Miles' testimony, both prosecutors and the defense will make closing arguments. The case will then be sent to the jury for deliberation.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect earlier this month in the case.


UPDATE 9/14/17, 11:20 a.m.

Testimony is continuing Thursday for a mother and stepfather on trial for the murder of their 3-year-old child.

Mariya Jones and Aaron Miles didn't look up at pictures presented to the jury showing the injuries to Jayden Jones' body.

The jury was shown multiple photos of Jayden Jones' body to illustrate the numerous and severe injuries he had suffered.

Dr. Barbara Knox of the University of Wisconsin testified Thursday morning. Dr. Knox specializes in cases involving torture as a form of child abuse.

Dr. Knox testified she reviewed the case and says there is evidence torture was used as punishment against Jayden.

She testified Jayden died from torture and sustained mental abuse.

According to her testimony, Dr. Knox said Jayden's death resulted from blunt force trauma to the stomach. There was also several injuries to the 3-year-old including whip marks, cigarette burns, fingernail gouges and bruising.

Dr. Knox said everyone in the home would've known of the abuse and that two other children in the home didn't endure the same abuse.

Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect on Tuesday.

They are both charged with 1st-degree murder and murder of a child by parent, guardian or custodian.

Testimony is expected to continue through Thursday.


UPDATE 9/13/17, 9:35 p.m.

Wednesday was the first day of testimony in the murder trial of a mother and her boyfriend accused of killing 3-year-old Jayden Jones.

Mariya Jones and Aaron Miles were arrested in July 2016 after the boy's body was found at a home along Seventh Avenue.

Police say the boy was severely abused.

During testimony, prosecutor's showed more than a dozen pictures of the injuries at the time of the death, but the defense told the jury to not be so quick to judge.

Prosecutors say the two hid Jayden from Child Protective Services and neighbors so they couldn't see the abuse.

On Tuesday, Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse and Miles pleaded guilty to child neglect.


UPDATE 9/12/17, 12:55 p.m.

A jury has been seated in the trial of a couple charged with the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Mariya Jones,of Huntington and Aaron Miles, 31, are facing charges of first-degree murder, murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, three counts of child abuse causing bodily injury, two counts of child neglect creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury and conspiracy.

According to our crew in the courtroom, Miles pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of child neglect. Jones pleaded guilty to three charges of child abuse.

The charges stem from the death of Mariya's 3-year-old son on July 12, 2016. Police say the boy was found dead in a house in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue.

The state medical examiner confirmed the child was severely abused. A doctor helping with the case said he was tortured.

Opening arguments in the case are expected to begin Tuesday afternoon.


UPDATE 9/2/16, 4 p.m.

A couple is now charged with murder in the death of a 3-year-old boy.

A Cabell County Grand Jury indicted Mariya Jones, 23, of Huntington and Aaron Miles, 31, on charges of first-degree murder, murder of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, death of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian, three counts of child abuse causing bodily injury, two counts of child neglect creating a substantial risk of serious bodily injury and conspiracy.

The charges stem from the death of Mariya's 3-year-old son on July 12, 2016. Police say the boy was found dead in a house in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue.

The state medical examiner confirmed the child was severely abused. A doctor helping with the case said he was tortured.

At a hearing in August, Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry testified that both Miles and Jones admitted to disciplining the boy with excessive force.

The couple remains in the Western Regional Jail.


UPDATE 7/20/16, 6 p.m.

The stepfather of a 3-year-old boy found dead in his home appeared in court Wednesday.

Aaron Miles, 31, of Huntington is charged with Child Abuse Resulting in Death.

The judge denied Miles' request to drop charges, and the man's case will be bound to grand jury.

The state medical examiner confirmed the child was severely abused. A doctor helping with the case said the 3-year-old boy was tortured.

Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry testified that both Miles and the boy's mother, Mariya Jones, admitted to disciplining their son with excessive force.

But during his preliminary hearing, Miles' defense argued the stepfather's role in discipline did not kill the boy.

The boy died from a tear in his small intestine that caused his bowel to leak into his stomach. The prosecution said it's certainly probable that issue was caused by a blow to the child.


UPDATE 7/19/16, 11:45 p.m.

More details have been released about the death of a 3-year-old boy who died from abuse from his mother and her boyfriend.

Mariya Jones, 23, of Huntington, who is charged with Child Abuse Resulting in Death, appeared in court Tuesday for a preliminary hearing -- exactly one week after her son was found dead.

The state medical examiner confirmed the child was severely abused. A doctor helping with the case said the 3-year-old boy was tortured.

A detective said the child had injuries from his head to his ankles and what appeared to be cigarette burns.

After the autopsy, the medical examiner said the cause of death was a tear in his small intestine that caused his bowel to leak into his stomach. The prosecution said it's certainly probable that issue was caused by a blow to the child.

"He had a black eye during the autopsy when we actually performed the medical procedure," Huntington Police Detective Chris Sperry said. "That bruise started at the eye and it went way back behind his ear, like someone had struck the side of his head."

The defense attorney said there was no denying abuse had occurred, but she said it hasn't been proven abuse caused this death, and she requested the the charges be dropped.

The judge denied that request, and the mother's case will be bound to the grand jury.

Aaron Miles, the boyfriend who was also charged, is due in court for his preliminary hearing on Wednesday.


UPDATE 7/19/16, 3:15 p.m.

A Cabell County magistrate has found probable cause to send the case of a mother charged with the death of her three year-old son to a grand jury.

Mariya Jones, 23, of Huntington, is charged with Child Abuse Resulting in Death.

Also, facing the same charge is her boyfriend, Aaron Miles, 31.

On July 12, Jones’ son was found unresponsive in the couple’s home in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue, according to Huntington Police. The boy was taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

WSAZ wants to warn readers that some of the content in Tuesday's testimony is graphic.

During the preliminary hearing for Jones Tuesday morning, HPD Detective, Chris Sperry was asked what he observed during the autopsy, and the conversation he had with the medical examiner. The preliminary autopsy indicated the boy died from a perforated bowel.

“What I observed and what I questioned the medical examiner on was there were old injures and there were new injuries. There were injuries from the top of his head all the way to his ankles. He had extensive scar tissue to his back. He had, what appeared to be, burns on his body. At the time, she couldn't testify if they were cigarette burns but by the diameter of them would be similar to cigarette burns but there were burns on his body. He had a black eye. That bruise started at his eye and went way behind his ear. He had an older rib fracture that has already healed back up next to the spine on the 11th rib, from a cracked rib. He had a perforated bowl and actually there was a hole that was allowing to escape and there was another tear that hadn't went all the way through in his small intestines. He had bruises on his knees, extensive scars to his neck and what appeared to be scratches. There were new injuries and there were old injuries. He was literally covered from the top of his head and I think the lowest one was his right ankle, " testified Sperry.

"After looking the photos over he (medical examiner) was able to say that this kid was tortured from the injuries that he had sustained to his body," Sperry said.

Prosecutors also questioned Sperry about his interview with Jones.

What did she tell you about his injuries? "She said he would fall. I asked about the black eye. That was the most noticeable thing. She said he fell and hit a kitchen cabinet, according to the testimony.

Sperry also testified about how Jones said she would discipline her son.

"She said they both(Jones and Miles) would. She said he would get into things. She said that he (Miles) would "whoop" the boy with a belt. They would make him do the bear crawl. Sometimes they would make him do push ups," according to the testimony.

Jones’ attorney, responded to the allegations.

"Whipping him on the back, as atrocious as the conduct may have been, did not kill him?" No. " Whipping him on the legs, as atrocious as the conduct may have been, is not what killed him? No. "A bruise on his skull, even if caused by means of other than accidental, is not what led to his death, did it?" True," said Gina Stanley.

The preliminary hearing for Miles is set for Wednesday morning.


UPDATE 7/13/16, 7:10 p.m.

Wednesday is the Huntington Police Department's first full day of investigating the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Mariya Jones and her boyfriend Aaron Miles, both of Huntington, are being charged with child abuse resulting in death.

Emergency responders were called to their home in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue for a cardiac arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, EMS said when they showed up, the boy was already dead and cold to the touch.

Huntington Police Chief Joe Ciccarelli says officers have collected several pieces of evidence from the home to build their case. He also said that evidence shows several people knew the alleged abuse was happening prior to the child's death.

"We have already found, even though it's very early in this investigation, that there are people who were aware that abuse was taking place in regard to this child," Ciccarelli said. "The failing is they did not report it."

Ciccarelli said some even made efforts to make sure the abuse didn't get reported.

WSAZ checked with the Cabell County Magistrate Court and found neither Jones nor Miles have criminal records in the county.

However, police say the two suspects have Detroit connections. According to Wayne County, Michigan court records, Miles has been arrested several times. His prior charges include fleeing from police, stealing property and possessing, delivering and manufacturing marijuana. There are no child abuse charges.

Ciccarelli says it's possible more charges could be filed in this case, but that's up to the prosecutors.

The criminal complaint says Child Protective Services (CPS) had been trying to make contact with that child for a month, but they hadn't been able to do so because the mother made herself and her son unavailable.

“We are unable to comment on an ongoing investigation," said Nancy Exline, Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Children and Families, in a statement to WSAZ. "The well-being of the children is our utmost concern and we have assured their appropriate placement in a safe environment.”

Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) officials also said that anytime abuse or neglect is suspected, anyone concerned should contact the DHHR hotline at 1-800-352-6513 and/or contact law enforcement.

Ciccarelli said tips can be made anonymously.


UPDATE 7/12/16, 10 p.m.

A mother and her boyfriend are accused of being responsible for the death of her 3-year-old son.

"I'm a great mom," Mariya Jones said. "Anybody who knows me knows that. I didn't cause this. This is not my fault."

Emergency responders were called to her home in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue, told the child had suffered a cardiac arrest.

According to the criminal complaint, EMS said when they showed up, the boy was already dead and cold to the touch.

The boyfriend, Aaron Miles, says Tuesday he walked down the block and left the child in the house without adult supervision periodically.

"He went to sleep on the bathroom floor," Miles told WSAZ as he was arriving for his arraignment at the Cabell County Courthouse. "I came back and checked on him. He said he was okay. I came back in the house, and my son didn't wake up. I called 911."

Police say the boy had multiple injuries in different stages of healing, one on his genital area. They say his stomach was distended and hard to the touch.

The boyfriend admitted to disciplining the boy when he got out of line.

"He'd been in trouble the last few days for being mischievous," Miles said, "and I had him doing push-ups."

"They tell me the reason I'm being charged is because, yeah, I did hit him with a belt," Jones said. "What else are you supposed to hit your child with?"

The criminal complaint says the injuries were not consistent with being struck by a belt.

Jones and Miles are both charged with child abuse resulting in death, but the two deny being responsible.

"Yes he was bad, he got his butt whooped, yeah," Jones said. "If he'd run into something and black his eye, that was his fault. I didn't punch him. I didn't do anything."

Jones says she wasn't home when her son died.

"I didn't cause that death," she said. "I didn't do that."

The criminal complaint says CPS had been trying to make contact with that child for a month, but they hadn't been able to do so because the mother made herself and her son unavailable.

"For me to be sitting here is bull crap," Jones said in the hallway of the courthouse. "It's really bull crap."

Miles also said the boy had been eating feces and drinking water out of the toilet.

The bond for both the mother and her boyfriend was set at $1 million each.

The victim's fourth birthday would've been later this month, his mother said.

The mother has two other children. Miles is the father of one of them. Those kids were taken in by CPS Tuesday.

Police say the two suspects have Detroit connections.


UPDATE 7/12/16, 6:55 p.m.

Huntington Police have arrested two people in connection with the death of a 3-year-old boy.

Mariya Jones, 22, the child's mother, and her boyfriend Aaron Miles, 31, are going to be charged with child abuse resulting in death.

Huntington Police say the child was found unresponsive at a home in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue from a report of cardiac arrest.

He was taken to Cabell Huntington Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

Investigators say the couple has ties to Huntington, Kanawha County and Detroit.

There were two other children in the home. They were removed by CPS.


ORIGINAL STORY 7/12/16, 6:45 p.m.

Huntington Police are investigating the death of a child.

Police say a boy was found deceased in a house in the 1800 block of 7th Avenue.

Police cruisers have been parked in front of the home all afternoon.

Investigators are not yet saying how the child may have died or who else was around at the time.

A neighbor says she thinks the child is 3 or 4 years old.



 
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