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Zuni child abuse case heads to grand jury

ISLE OF WIGHT

On Aug. 20 during a preliminary hearing in Isle of Wight County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, a judge certified second-degree murder and felony child abuse charges against Jaye Hadley, 32, and her boyfriend, Justin Cox, 33, both of Zuni. The two are accused of causing the death of Hadley’s 5-year-old son, Alexander Robertson.

According to Isle of Wight Commonwealth Attorney Georgette Phillips, both cases are now set to go before a grand jury on Monday, Sept. 10. If the grand jury returns true bills, meaning they find sufficient evidence for the charges to proceed to trial, then Cox is scheduled for determination of counsel on Wednesday, Sept. 12 and Hadley is scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday, Sept. 19, both in Circuit Court.

Lt. Tommy Potter, spokesman for the Isle of Wight Sheriff’s Office, said that deputies had charged the couple with felony child neglect in January after county EMS personnel found the boy unresponsive in January. The Sheriff’s Office added the second-degree murder charges after the boy died later that month.

Potter provided a copy of the criminal complaint to The Tidewater News in January, which states that Hadley admitted to beating her son with a shoe on his bottom several times. She also allegedly admitted to pushing him down, which caused the boy to hit his head on the floor, get up and then fall against a wall.

Hadley then allegedly let go of her son while checking on him, which resulted in his falling back and hitting his head on the wall again, this time putting a hole in the sheet rock. Robertson died on Jan. 16 at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters from his injuries after having been on life support since county medical personnel had discovered him unresponsive in his mother’s house on Jan. 8.

Potter said in January that the Sheriff’s Office had not initially thought that Cox inflicted physical harm to the child, but now believe that his actions played a direct role in the death of Robertson.

Additional evidence presented against Hadley and Cox during the hearing, Phillips said, came from an examination of Cox’s phone. This revealed that someone had searched the internet for “what gets rid of bruises,” “buspar makes me angry,” “unresponsive pupils,” “child starting peeing pants,” and “oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder in children.”

An investigator also testified that there was an internet search for “do people get enjoyment out of hurting kids” on Cox’s phone. However, there was no evidence presented as to which defendant performed that search, Phillips said.

“We found a number of searches on their phones that had to do with concerning adults enjoying producing pain in children [and] things that would suggest they knew about the injuries that were being inflicted or were found on the 5-year-old’s body,” Potter said.

Potter confirmed that Hadley and Cox both remain in custody at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail.