Court filings: Details released in Canyon Country baby death

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The filing of new court documents Wednesday in the case over the death of 2-month-old Jelani Taylor has revealed new details into what prosecutors believe led to the death of the Canyon Country baby.    

In the recent motions, the defense filed a request for the court to modify the bail of Marcel Taylor — Jelani’s father, who was arrested on suspicion of murdering his child — from $2 million to $30,000, citing that the 26-year-old man had no prior criminal history and there had been no prior accusations of abuse or neglect.  

However, in his response, Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami stated that in multiple places the baby’s skull had been hit multiple times over the head, causing blunt force trauma, and that Marcel Taylor had told deputies he had “killed (his) own, (his) only 2-month-old daughter.”  

The filings stem from Taylor having been arrested last month and charged with one count each of murder and assault on a child causing death in connection to the Sept. 29 death of Jelani at L.A. Children’s Hospital. 

The 2-month-old had been found a few days prior and taken by paramedics from a home on the 18000 block of Grace Lane in Canyon Country shortly after 3 a.m. 

On Nov. 16, Taylor’s attorneys, Sergio Castaneda and Edward Yim, entered a petition with Judge Cynthia Ulfig stating that their client — and that his family reportedly could attest to this fact — had been a “proud father.”  

“Prior to Jelani’s birth, Mr. Taylor was a proud father to be, with all the hopes and expectations any father would have for their children,” reads the defense’s motion for bail reduction filed in the San Fernando Courthouse last month. “He attended every single prenatal doctor’s appointment with (the baby’s mother), and they both looked forward to the day of her birth. Mr. Taylor even authored a children’s book for Jelani.” 

“And after Jelani’s birth, the proud parents did everything in their power to raise their new baby girl to be strong and healthy,” the motion adds. “In fact, there had never been any accusations of abuse or neglect concerning Jelani from anyone.”  

Although not arguing the kind of parent investigators believe him to have been before the baby was found on Sept. 26, Hatami argues that the baby suffered “extensive hemorrhaging” and blunt force trauma to her head, that the L.A. Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office had ruled the cause of death as blunt force trauma, the manner of death as homicide, and that the father was the only one watching the child at the time paramedics arrived.  

“The only thing that the defendant said in the 9-1-1 call was that he found Jelani in her crib and she wasn’t breathing,” reads the prosecutor’s response. “Fire also stated that the defendant was acting ‘nonchalant’ and was not showing any emotion.” 

According to the complaint, Marcel Taylor then told investigators — demonstrating his previous action on video — that he had gone into the baby’s room and “violently and aggressively shook Jelani back and forth and side to side.” 

“The defendant did not alert his brother, who resided in the apartment, that Jelani was unconscious or that she needed help,” reads the response. “The defendant also waited several minutes before he called ‘9-1-1.’”  

When arrested, according to detectives, Marcel Taylor told detectives that he had shook the baby, and that he knew he was wrong to do so.  

“‘I know I’m a terrible father, a horrible father. I live with that for the rest of my life,’” the prosecutors’ motion recounts Marcel Taylor telling detectives. “‘I killed my own, my only 2-month-old daughter. I got to live with that on my conscience.’”  

“The defendant, however, still has not explained how Jelani suffered an impact injury to the back of her head,” the motion reads. 

While the D.A.’s office alleges that Taylor — who remains in custody — poses a clear danger to the public, his defense counsel argues in their request to the court that the father has no previous criminal record, has a constitutional right to reasonable bail, the court must consider the defendant’s financial ability to post bail, and that not only does Taylor have an incentive to appear at all hearings in the case, but he must also meet regularly with his defense counsel.  

Arguments for the motions by both the prosecution and defense are set to take place Thursday morning in the San Fernando Courthouse.  

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