Trial for death of Huntington toddler begins

The mother of 3-year-old Jayden Jones, Mariya Jones sits in Cabell County Court during opening arguments Wednesday. 

Opening arguments began in the murder trial for the death of 3-year-old Jayden Jones Wednesday. Police found the toddler's body in a house in the 1800 block of Seventh Avenue in July 2016.

Mariya A. Jones, 22, and Aaron B. Miles, 31, both of Huntington, were indicted in 2016 on charges including first-degree murder, three counts of child abuse causing bodily injury, two counts of child neglect creating risk of serious bodily injury and conspiracy. Jayden Jones was the son of Mariya Jones and stepson of Aaron Miles.

"In the end Jayden was probably stomped in the back," Assistant prosecuting attorney Peggy Brown said during opening arguments. "While he was on the floor he suffered a vicious, deliberate and premeditated attack."

Many witnesses took the stand Wednesday including first responders who arrived on scene after someone called in Jayden's death as a cardiac arrest.

Police said the boy had visible injuries all over his body. When paramedics took the child's body to the ambulance they realized he was past the point of resuscitation, and they could not save him.

"Jayden Jones was repeatedly beaten and abused," Brown said. "With a belt, with cords, with fists, with fingernails, with lit cigarettes, with whatever was available."

Miles pleaded guilty to two counts of child neglect of two other children in the home, and Jones pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse Tuesday in Cabell County Circuit Court. Jones admitted to hitting the toddler with a belt, a cord and burning him.

Mariya Jones' attorney Gina Stanley argued her client admitted to spanking the child. She said the tough beating came from Jayden's stepfather Aaron Miles.

"You can not act based upon passion or prejudice," Gina Stanley told the jury during opening arguments. "You must use your rational mind when making a decision."

Miles' attorney Kerry Nessel said his client also admitted to spanking the toddler, but the spankings were not excessive. Nessel read aloud a text sent by Jones to her mother speaking of discipline issues with the child.

"Mom I am sending your grandson to come stay with you for a couple of weeks," Nessel read in court. "I will send money and food stamps. I need a break from him before I kill Jayden."

Friend of the family Tiquan Lang was one of several witnesses who testified Wednesday. He said he knew the 3-year-old boy, and had been to the house where his body was found. Lang said he would sometimes bring food with him because the child always seemed hungry.

"I knew he was hungry by the way he was eating," Lang said.

Lang also said he witnessed Miles beat the toddler with a belt. He said he told him he was being to harsh with the child.

First responders, detectives and medical examiners also gave testimonies Wednesday in Cabell County Court. Trial will begin again Thursday morning at 9 a.m.

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