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Updated: 11:47 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 | Posted: 6:51 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013

Fairburn babysitter sentenced to 10 years for child’s death



By Marcus K. Garner and Alexis Stevens

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Fairburn woman convicted of killing a toddler in her care while she ran an unlicensed daycare in 2011 will spend 10 years in prison, a judge ruled Thursday.

Maria Owens was found guilty on Friday of two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, first-degree cruelty to children and felony involuntary manslaughter for the June 1, 2011 death of 11-month-old Jaylen Kelly.

Owens was sentenced Thursday in Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk’s courtroom.

“The state is extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling and we will be seeking an appeal of the court’s sentence,” Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Pete Johnson said.

Jurors convicted Owens, 44, on Friday on charges of felony murder, aggravated assault and cruelty to children in the first degree for the June 2011 beating death of Jaylen Kelly.

Owens was sentenced Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk’s courtroom.

Owens called 911 on June 1, 2011, from the Fairburn home where she was babysitting Jaylen to report that the child was unresponsive, according to police. The baby was transported to Piedmont Fayette Hospital and then airlifted to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, where he later died.

Owens claimed she struck the baby a few times on his side to help him “clear his cough” before he began to gasp and became unresponsive, a spokeswoman for the DA’s office said. Owens was arrested two days after the boy’s death and was booked into the Fulton County jail.

“At trial, several medical professionals testified the baby was killed by an extremely hard blow to the back resulting in a fractured spine,” the DA’s office said in an emailed statement. “The Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death as blunt force trauma of the torso which also resulted in massive internal bleeding.”

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