ST. GEORGE – The Toquerville mother accused of locking her son away in a filth-covered bathroom for an extended period of time pleaded guilty to felony charges of child abuse Tuesday.
Brandy Jaynes, 36, appeared in 5th District Court before Judge Eric Ludlow and entered guilty pleas to three charges of second-degree felony child abuse.
“The defendant took responsibility for her actions, and she entered guilty plea to all charges the state alleged in this case,” Deputy Washington County Attorney Angie Reddish-Day said. “It’s a very, very good outcome.”
Edward Flint, Jaynes’ attorney, said they had been discussing her plea for the last few weeks. Jaynes ultimately decided to plead guilty as a way to protect her children who are hassled in school every time her face appears on the news, Flint said.
While Flint said he would have liked to have taken the case to a trial in order to “air out all of the dirty laundry” in order to potentially get a lesser charge from a sympathetic jury, Jaynes chose to plea guilty to the trio of felony charges instead. Prolonging court proceeding would mean the teasing and berating her children received while at school would also continue.
“She decided what (was in) the best interest of her children was to plead guilty,” Flint said.
Each second-degree felony carries a term of one-to-15 years in prison.
Jaynes’ sentencing is set for Aug. 28, during which time a presentencing report will be composed looking into Jaynes’ background and the overall circumstances leading up to the events that triggered her arrest. Based on that information, a sentencing recommendation will be given to the judge, who will have the choice to either follow it or ignore it.
“We’ve never disputed that these events happened, that these facts occurred,” Flint said. “It was just – what was her state of mind?”
Flint has maintained he believes his client had a mental breakdown of some sort and her putting her son in a bathroom for allegedly a year or longer was how she ended up dealing with the situation.
“When you plead guilty as she did today, she’s admitting that the state could proved she acting willfully and intentionally, and neither of us believe she acted willfully and intentionally,” Flint said. “(She) acted under extreme duress and a very impaired mental state of being.”
Jaynes feels great remorse and regret over what took place and what has happened to her family since, Flint said.
The 12-year-old boy, along with a twin sister and younger sibling, were removed from the home and have since been placed in foster care.
As for how the boy is doing now, Reddish-Day said he is recovering well.
“After being taken out of that horrible environment, he started to progress very well, almost immediately,” she said. “With proper nutrition, proper medical care, proper love and affection, he’s really been very resilient and has bounced back quite remarkably.”
Jaynes was arrested in January after her 12-year-old son was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center where his condition came to the attention of authorities.
The boy weighed 30 pounds and was in a highly malnourished state, according to court records.
Police were alerted to the situation by medical staff and investigated the home. They found the bathroom where the boy was said to be kept for a year or more, locked away from the rest of the family.
“He looked like one of those children who had been held in a concentration camp,” Washington County Sheriff’s Lt. David Crouse previously said as he described the boy’s physical condition. “Skin and bones and only weighing 30 pounds.”
The bathroom was reportedly covered in filth and feces and locked from the outside. Light switches inside the bathroom were also reported by police to be taped over so they couldn’t be used.
Hundreds of photos documenting the progression of the boy’s alleged “torture” were left on a laptop and on a phone investigators reviewed, Reddish-Day said previously. Jaynes is said to have watched her son lying on the bathroom floor through a baby monitor and camera set up in the locked bathroom.
Jaynes’ son has the opportunity to address the court during her sentencing in August, Reddish-Day said, but whether he will do so remains to be seen. He could either do it in person or through a written statement.
Russell Jaynes, the boy’s father, was charged with third-degree felony child abuse and is set to appear in court July 31 for a possible resolution in his part of the case.
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