LIMA — Jurors deliberated for five hours Tuesday before finding Gabriel Salyers guilty of murdering 18-month-old Jaxxon Sullivan at a Lima home nearly one year ago.
Salyers, 32, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read in six of the seven counts against him. Jurors found him not guilty of aggravated murder, the most serious charge.
Sentencing followed immediately and Salyers was handed a prison term of 31 years to life by Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed. Prosecutors had asked for that sentence and Reed complied after saying of the case, “They don’t get any worse than this.”
Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Juergen Waldick said of Salyers, “There should be no possibility that this man ever sees the light of day again. The depravity (of Salyers) is almost unspeakable. If ever there was a case for lack of remorse, this is it.”
Also speaking prior to sentencing were Shelly Wireman’s parents, the grandparents of Jaxxon Sullivan.
Angie Bailey, speaking directly to Salyers, said, “I don’t think you understand what you took away from my family.” Her husband, Dave Bailey, told the defendant, “Jaxxon was my first and only grandson, and I never got to hear him call me Papa. There are so many firsts I don’t get to have” with Jaxxon.
Salyers chose not to make a statement before sentence was passed.
Defense Attorney John Fisher said only that his client continues to maintain that he did not kill the child. Fisher had previously indicated the case would be appealed.
The jury of seven women and five men received the case around noon. They emerged from the deliberation room at approximately 5:15 p.m. to deliver their verdict. Members of Salyers’ family and friends were on hand to hear the jurors’ decision. Additional security personnel were on hand to keep order.
Salyers was charged in the April 2018 death of 18-month-old Jaxxon Sullivan, who was rushed to a Lima hospital from a home on Oak Street in Lima on Easter Sunday last year after being found limp and seemingly lifeless by first responders. The child suffered extensive head injuries and died two days later when taken off life support in a Toledo hospital.
A grand jury indicted Salyers on one count of aggravated murder, an unspecified felony; murder, an unspecified felony; three counts of endangering children, all second-degree felonies; domestic violence, a fourth-degree felony; and possession of drugs, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Two medical experts testified during the trial that the young boy died almost immediately after suffering violent blows to the head on that Sunday morning almost a year ago.
The infant’s mother is also changed with involuntary manslaughter in her son’s violent death.
During closing arguments Tuesday morning, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Randy Basinger told jurors they could reasonably come to no other conclusion than that the defendant delivered the fatal blows to Jaxxon Sullivan. He reminded jurors of Salyers’ own statements to investigators and testimony in court that he had shaken the baby on more than one occasion “to get him to stop crying.” And Basinger said Salyers was successful.
“He got Jaxxon to stop crying … by murdering him,” said Basinger.
Jurors found the Lima man guilty of murder, an unspecified felony; three counts of endangering children, second-degree felonies; one count of domestic violence, a fourth-degree felony; and one count of possession of drugs, a first-degree misdemeanor.
Some counts were merged for sentencing purposes.