Defendant struck the baby in the back causing a fracture and significant loss of blood

Atlanta–Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr., announces the MURDER conviction, by a Fulton County Superior Court Jury, of 51-year-old MARIA OWENS.

On June 1, 2011, three days prior to his first birthday, the parents of Jaylen Kelly left him and his 3-year-old sister in the care and custody of their regular daycare provider, Maria Owens. That morning, the Kelly’s informed Owens that they intended to remove their children from her care in an effort to enroll Jaylen and his sister in a more structured daycare environment. The Kelly’s were the only children in Owens’ care at the time, and it was her sole source of income. Owens was also in the process of divorcing her husband.

Approximately an hour after learning of this decision by the parents of the Kelly children, Owens called 911 and said Jaylen Kelly was not breathing. The baby was rushed to a local hospital and then flown to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta-Egleston. Despite the efforts of hospital staff, Jaylen Kelly succumbed to his injuries. During the autopsy, it was determined that Jaylen’s back was fractured, and he lost nearly half of his blood volume.

Owens admitted to striking the baby but said she was simply attempting to help Jaylen cough to relieve issues related to bronchitis. The Fulton County Medical Examiner disputed this claim and stated that an immense amount of force would be required to fracture Jaylen’s back.

Owens was originally convicted of Involuntary Manslaughter and Felony Murder in this case in 2013. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Henry Newkirk vacated the Felony Murder count, and Owens was sentenced to 10 years to serve; however, the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office appealed the conviction and the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that an error on the verdict form impacted the jury’s verdict. The conviction was reversed, and the case was remanded for a new trial.

OWENS was convicted of MURDER, FELONY MURDER, AGGRAVATED ASSAULT, and CRUELTY TO CHILDREN IN THE 1ST DEGREE.

Owens was sentenced to
Life in Prison.

Judge Henry Newkirk, of the Superior Court of Fulton County, presided over the case. Senior Assistant District Attorney Deah Warren led the prosecution of the case. She was assisted by Assistant District Attorney Robert Springer, Investigator Glenn Cross, and Victim-Witness-Advocate James Williams of the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. Detective Tiffany Hudson of the Fairburn Police Department was the lead investigator in the case.