Girl’s murder termed a ‘horribly-gone-wrong case of discipline’


Suspected killer in 4-year-old’s death heads to grand jury as family protests outside

By J Swygart - jswygart@limanews.com



A shrine has been erected for 4-year-old My’Laya Dewitt outside the home on North Elizabeth Street in Lima where she was found unresponsive last week. Romiere Hale has been charged with murder in her death, and her mother faces a child endangerment charge.

A shrine has been erected for 4-year-old My’Laya Dewitt outside the home on North Elizabeth Street in Lima where she was found unresponsive last week. Romiere Hale has been charged with murder in her death, and her mother faces a child endangerment charge.


J Swygart | The Lima News

The attorney for Romiere Hale said the case against his 21-year-old client, pictured above, is “a horribly-gone-wrong case of discipline that should have been handled in a different way.”

The attorney for Romiere Hale said the case against his 21-year-old client, pictured above, is “a horribly-gone-wrong case of discipline that should have been handled in a different way.”


J Swygart | The Lima News

Ma’Laya Dewitt


J Swygart | The Lima News

Romiere Hale made a brief appearance in Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday, where his charge of murder was bound over to Allen County Common Pleas Court. Magistrate Richard Warren continued Hale’s bond at $1 million. Hale is accused of causing the death of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter.


J Swygart | The Lima News

Protesters outside Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday attracted the attention of motorists by holding signs in remembrance of Ma’Laya Dewitt, who died last week as a result of alleged child abuse. The women said they were family members of the 4-year-old girl.


J Swygart | The Lima News

LIMA — Testimony from a Lima police officer, coupled with attorney comments offered in Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday, appeared to leave little doubt that Romiere Hale was responsible for the death last week of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter.

Lima Police Department Detective Sean Neidemire testified during a preliminary hearing for Hale that the 21-year-old Lima man admitted to police that he struck My’Laya Dewitt in the abdomen about a week before she was found unresponsive inside a North Elizabeth Street residence and died a short time later at a Lima hospital.

Hale subsequently was arrested and charged with murder, a first-degree felony.

Even Hale’s own attorney seemed to concede his client played a role in the girl’s death.

“This is a horribly-gone-wrong case of discipline that should have been handled in a different way,” attorney Kenneth Rexford said.

Protesters who said they were family members of the infant stood outside the municipal court building Tuesday holding signs that read “Justice for Malaya” and “Stop Child Abuse.”

A shrine to Ma’laya has been erected at the North Elizabeth Street home where the young girl lived. Balloons and toys adorn the entrance of the residence.

Also jailed on a felony charge of child endangerment is Stayce Riley, 23, of Lima, the infant’s mother. She is scheduled to appear in municipal court Thursday for her preliminary hearing. Neidemire described Hale as the live-in boyfriend of the girl’s mother and said the two adults were the sole caregivers for the 4-year-old.

Officers from the Lima Police Department were dispatched shortly after 2 p.m. on April 12 to a residence at 535 N. Elizabeth St. in reference to a report of an unresponsive child. Upon their arrival, officers located the 4-year-old inside the residence. The child was transported to a local hospital, where medical personnel attempted life-saving measures but were unable to revive her.

Initial reports from the Lucas County Coroner’s Office, where an autopsy of the young girl was conducted, indicated Dewitt died of “severe abdominal injuries … that were about a week old,” Neidemire testified on Tuesday.

That coincides with statements allegedly made to investigators by Hale that he had disciplined Ma’Laya by hitting her in the stomach around April 3, the detective said. He noted that Riley told investigators that her daughter “was not feeling well” in the week before she was found unresponsive.

At the conclusion of Hale’s preliminary hearing, Magistrate Richard Warren found probable cause existed to send the case to the Allen County Common Pleas Court for consideration by an upcoming session of the grand jury. Hale’s bond of $1 million was continued.

A shrine has been erected for 4-year-old My’Laya Dewitt outside the home on North Elizabeth Street in Lima where she was found unresponsive last week. Romiere Hale has been charged with murder in her death, and her mother faces a child endangerment charge.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/04/web1_Elizabeth-Street-shrine-for-Malaya-1.jpgA shrine has been erected for 4-year-old My’Laya Dewitt outside the home on North Elizabeth Street in Lima where she was found unresponsive last week. Romiere Hale has been charged with murder in her death, and her mother faces a child endangerment charge. J Swygart | The Lima News
The attorney for Romiere Hale said the case against his 21-year-old client, pictured above, is “a horribly-gone-wrong case of discipline that should have been handled in a different way.”
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/04/web1_Romiere-Hale-in-muni-2-1-1.jpgThe attorney for Romiere Hale said the case against his 21-year-old client, pictured above, is “a horribly-gone-wrong case of discipline that should have been handled in a different way.” J Swygart | The Lima News
Ma’Laya Dewitt
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/04/web1_Dewitt-Malaya-1.jpgMa’Laya Dewitt J Swygart | The Lima News
Romiere Hale made a brief appearance in Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday, where his charge of murder was bound over to Allen County Common Pleas Court. Magistrate Richard Warren continued Hale’s bond at $1 million. Hale is accused of causing the death of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/04/web1_Romiere-Hale-in-muni-ct-1.jpgRomiere Hale made a brief appearance in Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday, where his charge of murder was bound over to Allen County Common Pleas Court. Magistrate Richard Warren continued Hale’s bond at $1 million. Hale is accused of causing the death of his girlfriend’s 4-year-old daughter. J Swygart | The Lima News
Protesters outside Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday attracted the attention of motorists by holding signs in remembrance of Ma’Laya Dewitt, who died last week as a result of alleged child abuse. The women said they were family members of the 4-year-old girl.
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2021/04/web1_Justice-for-Malaya-1.jpgProtesters outside Lima Municipal Court on Tuesday attracted the attention of motorists by holding signs in remembrance of Ma’Laya Dewitt, who died last week as a result of alleged child abuse. The women said they were family members of the 4-year-old girl. J Swygart | The Lima News
Suspected killer in 4-year-old’s death heads to grand jury as family protests outside

By J Swygart

jswygart@limanews.com

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