Jasper Police announced on Friday the arrest of a man who they say is responsible for the recent death of an infant. According to Chief Robert MacDonald, officers obtained a warrant for and arrested 23-year-old Justin Dewayne Havard. He was taken into custody in Newton County and temporarily jailed there, before being transported to the Jasper County Jail later in the day.
While in Newton County, Havard was arraigned by Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace A.J. Satterwhite and charged with injury to a child, with bond denied.
Chief Macdonald said it all began on Friday, November 8th at about 12:00 noon when Havard called 911, and told dispatchers that a baby was choking in Myrtis Village Apartments #24-A, located at 200 Myrtis Street. MacDonald said Havard, who is the boyfriend of the child’s mother and not the biological father, was supposed to be watching the baby, along with the baby’s 4-year-old sister while the mother, identified as Samantha Lynn McDaniel, was at work.
According to MacDonald, the child was initially taken by ambulance to Christus Jasper Memorial Hospital, where Detectives Derek Woods and Garrett Foster interviewed Havard and others, and sensed something suspicious about the situation.
Meanwhile, the baby, identified by family members as Rylan McDaniel, was later taken to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where he died the following day.
MacDonald said an autopsy revealed that the baby died as the result of “blunt force trauma to the head”, and not as the result of choking.
According to MacDonald, Detectives Woods and Foster conducted several interviews of Havard, and later took that information and other evidence to District Attorney Steve Hollis, who agreed on a charge of injury to a child, which is a first degree felony, and punishable by 5 to 99 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000.00, if convicted.
MacDonald said no charges are expected to be filed against the mother. Meanwhile, Child Protective Services has taken the older child and placed her in foster care.