A state appeals court panel upheld a Corona man's conviction for murder and assault for the January 2012 death of his girlfriend's 17-month-old daughter in La Mirada, court papers show Wednesday.
A three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected the defense's claims that there was no evidence that Mark Edward Vaughn assaulted Jayden Brianne Turner or caused her injuries and that jurors should have been instructed on involuntary manslaughter, along with the murder charge.
"Appellant was alone with Jayden when she was injured. Two medical experts testified that the severe complex skull fractures she sustained could not have been inflicted by the type of accidental fall appellant described. Instead, both expert witnesses opined the injuries were consistent with a very severe blow to the head inflicted by a hard object, such as by bashing Jayden's head into a wall," the justices found in their 16-page ruling issued Tuesday.
The justices also rejected the defense's contention that jurors should have been instructed on the lesser offense of involuntary manslaughter.
Vaughn -- who had been babysitting the girl -- told sheriff's homicide detectives that the baby fell out of a chair on Jan. 20, 2012, and struck her head on the floor, which was carpeted and padded.
The toddler was taken to an Orange County hospital, where she was pronounced dead four days later.
An autopsy by the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner's Department determined that the tot died from blunt force trauma to the head, and her death was ruled a homicide.
The case against Vaughn was filed after coroner's officials in Orange County and Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives spoke with prosecutors from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
He was arrested April 3, 2012, in Corona by Los Angeles County sheriff's personnel and was sentenced nearly a year ago to 25 years to life in state prison.
In a statement read in court on her behalf, the girl's mother, Koryne Turner, called her daughter "the happiest, most loving, genuine and fun- spirited little girl that God put on this earth."
"... One of the most disheartening reminders of Jayden's absence is the fact that I now possess a death certificate with her name clearly printed across the top of it," she said, noting the "document is proof that Jayden's death was intentional -- at the hands of someone that both her and I loved."
"Because of Mark, I am forced to live the rest of my life without my precious daughter," she said.
– City News Service.