LIMA — A Lima woman whose 4-year-old daughter died last month of abdominal injuries after suffering what investigators say was a severe beating has been indicted on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Her live-in boyfriend faces charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter and endangering children for allegedly causing the death of My’Laya Dewitt and also for inflicting injuries on the young girl’s brother.
Stayce Riley, 23, Ma’Laya’s mother, was indicted earlier this week by an Allen County grand jury on a first-degree felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and a single count of child endangering, a felony of the third degree. Her bond was set at $200,000.
Romiere Hale, Riley’s 21-year-old live-in boyfriend, was indicted by the grand jury on single counts of murder, an unclassified felony, and involuntary manslaughter, a felony of the first degree. The grand jury also returned indictments on eight counts of endangering children.
Hale’s bond was set at $1 million.
Officers from the Lima Police Department were dispatched shortly after 2 p.m. on April 12 to 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,” LPD Detective Sean Neidemire testified during a hearing in municipal court on Tuesday for Romiere Hale, Riley’s 21-year-old live-in boyfriend. He has been charged with murder in the child’s death.
Hale told investigators he had disciplined My’Laya by hitting her in the stomach around April 3, the detective said. He said Riley told investigators that her daughter “was not feeling well” in the week before she was found unresponsive.
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 during the preliminary hearing.