Autopsy report of baby offers new details

The L.A. County Medical Examiner/Coroner's Office logo
The L.A. County Medical Examiner/Coroner's Office logo

The autopsy report of 2-month-old Jelani Taylor, whose cause of death was ruled a homicide, has provided more details surrounding her death in September of last year.  

According to the report, Taylor died of blunt head and neck trauma and had brain swelling, bleeding of the brain, bleeding in the back of the eyes, and fresh bleeding around the nerves of her spinal cord at the time of her death.  

“The autopsy revealed that aside from the injuries, Jelani was a normally developed infant with no significant [present from birth] abnormalities,” read the report done by Dr. Stephanie Yagi, associate deputy medical examiner for the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner. “The extent and nature of the injuries to the head, neck and torso is most consistent with non-accidental trauma. The manner of death is homicide.” 

Taylor’s father, Marcel Taylor, was charged with the murder of his child last fall and is scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on Sept. 28.  

According to the investigator’s narrative presented by the Coroner’s office, prepared by Ryan Benavidez-Parraz, Taylor lived at the 10800 block of West Grace Lane in Canyon Country with her parents, aunt, and uncle on the night of her death.  

The narrative, which is based on witness statements including those of Marcel and Taylor’s mother, said that the mother took Taylor to another child’s party located in Burbank before dropping the baby off with Marcel, at the Canyon Country residence. The mother then left to return to the party in Burbank, leaving the baby with Marcel.  

The narrative, based on witness interviews, said that Taylor was placed in a crib at approximately 1 a.m., where she fell asleep. Marcel then woke up at approximately 3 a.m. to use the restroom, and upon returning he found Taylor to be limp and blue.  

Marcel then shook the baby for anywhere between 30 seconds to a minute. At no time was Marcel’s brother, who lived in the apartment, alerted to Taylor’s condition. Marcel eventually called 911 and  he was instructed to begin performing CPR, which he did until paramedics arrived. Taylor was eventually transported to the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, where she died.   

What the autopsy report and narrative don’t explain, however, is how blunt force trauma in the head and neck occurred. The report also goes to great lengths to explain how healthy Taylor was prior to her death, saying “the parents had no medical concerns or problems in which a diagnosis could not be made” and, if true, what caused Taylor to be unresponsive in the first place that prompted Marcel to shake her.  

Witnesses to the autopsy included Deputy District Attorney Jonathan Hatami and Detective Spencer with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Division.  

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