14-month-old girl dies from injuries to 'head, face, and vaginal area', stepfather gets life without parole

Wayne Brown was jailed on charges of felony murder and child abuse after his stepdaughter Laylah Heether died of complications stemming from physical abuse over a long period of time


                            14-month-old girl dies from injuries to 'head, face, and vaginal area', stepfather gets life without parole

A Newaygo man whose 14-month-old stepdaughter died in February 2017 after suffering physical and sexual abuse was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole on Thursday, October 11.

30-year-old Wayne Arthur-Scott Brown of Newaygo, Michigan was earlier found guilty of first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of 14-month-old Laylah Heether. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder conviction and 23 to 40 years for the child abuse conviction, Newaygo County Prosecutor Worth Stay told M Live.

Medical experts believe Laylah's physical abuse occurred over time (GoFundMe)
Medical experts believe Laylah's physical abuse occurred over time (GoFundMe)

"The murder of any human being is tragic," Stay said. "What makes the murder of a young child like Laylah so heartbreaking is that she had so much life left to live. I hope this conviction and sentence allows Laylah's family an opportunity to begin to heal."

A week after Laylah was admitted to Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids with injuries to her head, face, and vaginal area, she died on February 21, 2017.

Laylah's stepfather Brown told the doctors that he was in the kitchen when Laylah fell off the couch. He said the child's mother was away when this happened and that he administered CPR after he found her unresponsive.

Children's Protective Services had expressed concerns about Brown's contact with his own children
Children's Protective Services had expressed concerns about Brown's contact with his own children

Doctors didn't believe that claim and the hospital contacted law enforcement. Doctors then found Laylah had old and new fractures to bones, bleeding on her brain and bruising.

According to WoodTV, a doctor at Grand Rapids' Helen DeVos Children's Hospital reportedly concluded that "trauma is the only thing that could have caused these injuries." The doctor said the injuries were "outside the range of expected minor injuries resulting from normal everyday activity," according to a petition to Newaygo County Circuit Court related to the case.

The report also documented injuries to Laylah's genitals that a YWCA sexual abuse nurse concluded were from "probable sexual abuse."

Medical experts believed the physical abuse occurred over time, and a nurse examiner suspected the infant had also been sexually abused, according to court documents.

There were at least three other young children who lived with Brown at the time of the murder. Court records also reveal a history of documented claims of abuse and drug use against him. Children's Protective Services had even filed petitions in the past expressing concerns about his contact with his own children.

In early 2015, Department of Human Services determined Brown and his wife were unfit to care for the children based on domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health concerns, court documents show. The children were taken away but Brown and his wife regained custody later that year.