LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Detectives have upped the charges against a man accused of beating and killing a Lakeland toddler, 8 On Your Side has learned.
Alegray Jones, 30, was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child in the death of 2-year-old Jayden Hines. The charge is a felony that carries a sentence of up to 30 years.
But overnight, Lakeland police detectives obtained an arrest warrant for first-degree murder – a capital offense and most serious possible charge. A charge of aggravated child abuse was also added Wednesday.
According to police, Jones got aggravated after 2-year-old Jayden urinated on the couch on Thursday, April 8. Jones, who was dating Jayden’s mother, reportedly told police he hit the child on multiple areas of his body, causing him to go unconscious.
An arrest warrant obtained by 8 On Your Side Investigator Mahsa Saeidi states that the “defendant subsequently forcefully threw the victim onto an air mattress that was in the dining room. The force in which the victim hit the mattress caused him to bounce toward the adjacent wall.”
Jayden was pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health. A medical examiner determined his cause of death was multiple blunt force trauma injuries.
Failed by the system?
Rashawd Hines, Jayden’s father, says his son’s death was preventable and that the system failed the young boy.
“Is my son’s life not worth more than urination on a couch? He’s 2 years old,” Mr. Hines said.
He has been pressing authorities to upgrade charges against his son’s alleged killer. Typically, the process takes time as law enforcement officials work to methodically put together a solid case.
8 On Your Side reached out to Mr. Hines for comment on Wednesday after the charges were upgraded.
“I’ll continue pushing to make sure all responsible…are held accountable,” he told us.
No charges have been filed against Jayden’s mother. Authorities say the woman was at work when the alleged beating incident occurred.
Jayden is described as a loving soul who loved pizza, PJ Masks and playing.
“Everybody knows that Jayden is my right hand man,” Mr. Hines said. “I coach at George Jenkins High School and whenever I’m at the gym, Jayden is right there next to me.”
Jones had his first appearance in Polk County at 1 p.m. Wednesday where he was read the charges and asked if he required an attorney.
What happens next?
Florida law requires a grand jury indictment for a first-degree murder charge.
Prosecutors typically have 21 days to get the indictment and file an information. Ordinarily, the clock starts when the defendant is taken into custody.
The arraignment occurs after prosecutors obtain the indictment. At that time, the defendant has the opportunity to enter a plea.
You can make a donation to the family’s GoFundMe account here.