Monday, February 3, 2014

Dad denied bond in death of 3-month-old daughter (Rock Hill, South Carolina)

Dad SAMUEL WHITE had a violent criminal record, and was on probation. It also appears he had a drug/alcohol problem. Since he was more or less unemployed/unemployable, he became the "sole caretaker" of the baby girl--at least at the time of her death--while Mom worked to support the family.

Is anyone really surprised at the outcome?

Bond denied for Rock Hill father charged in baby's death

By Andrew Dys
February 3, 2014 Updated 2 hours ago

Samuel White, who is the father a 3-month old baby who suffocated Dec. 3 while in bed with him, makes his first court appearance Monday, Feb. 3.


The father of Ja’Leyah White, the 3-month old baby who suffocated Dec. 3 while in bed with her father, has been arrested on a charge of homicide by child neglect, according to Rock Hill police. Ja’Leyah was born Labor Day, two months after her mother survived a leap from a burning building while seven months pregnant.

Samuel White, 25, was arrested by detectives Monday morning after arrest warrants were issued late Friday, said Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department.

White's bond was denied Monday afternoon in municipal court. He did not say anything during his bond hearing.

S.C. Department of Social services officials had been investigating the family before the baby died Dec. 3 from what the York County Coroner’s office called suffocation from co-sleeping in bed with White. DSS officials confirmed that another family member was supposed to be caring for Ja’Leyah under terms of a DSS agreement that White, the baby’s mother, Mandi Coley, and the agency had.

Ja’Leyah was found unresponsive late Dec. 2 by Coley, the mother, after returning from work to the Oak Hollow Apartment unit where Coley and White lived with the baby, according to the original police report. Coley told police that when she got home, she could not wake White and, after pounding on the door, she climbed in through a window. She found Je’Leyah was not breathing and called 911. White told police he had fed the baby and changed her diaper before both went to sleep in the bed around 7 p.m. Dec. 2, according to the original police report.

At the hospital, Samuel White was taken into protective custody after arguing with police. He also submitted to toxicology tests, according to the police report. It is unclear what the results of the tests were.

The York County child fatality team made up of those agencies and prosecutors reviewed the case and produced a video re-enactment of the scene.

On July 2, both Coley and Samuel White leaped to safety as a fire destroyed the building at Oak Hollow Apartments where Coley and White lived. That fire displaced 28 people. A neighbor was later charged with arson and attempted murder after allegedly setting the fire.

Police allege that White was both drunk and high on marijuana at the time Ja'Leyah died.

White was "grossly intoxicated on alcohol and marijuana" at the time he was the sole caregiver for Ja'Leyah, according to the arrest warrant in the case obtained by The Herald. Ja'Leyah suffocated as a result of White's neglect, the warrant states.

Police have statements from White and other witnesses concerning his actions Dec. 2, the warrant states.

After Ja'leyah died, several residents of the apartments were furious with White after allegedly seeing him Dec. 2 outside the apartment he shared with Coley, the baby's mother, and the baby.

India Blanding, Ja'Leyah's godmother, cried this morning after she learned of White's arrest, saying that Ja'leyah was a beautiful child and that she and others who loved Ja'Leyah had been waiting two months for police to do finish the investigation.

"Ja'Leyah was a beautiful baby and this never should have happened," Blanding said.

White is currently on probation from a May conviction for February 2013 assault and battery incident, according to records from the S.C. Law Enforcement Division. Before that, he was convicted of burglary in 2008, records show, and sentenced under youthful offender status to a six year sentence that was suspended after White served 280 days in jail after his arrest in 2007.

After Ja'Leyah died, White was put on a no-trespass notice by the management of the Oak Hollow Apartments and barred by police from returning to the complex.

White could face up to life in prison if convicted. Homicide by child neglect carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years in prison for a conviction, but the state law White is charged under shows the conviction can carry up to life.