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Trial for W.Va. couple charged in toddler's death delayed until April

Trial postponed for James N. Mauldin and Jasmine K. Dawkins so experts have time to review file and evaluate defendant

November 15, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The trial for two people charged in the New Year’s Day death of a 3-year-old boy was reset for April 1, 2013, to give experts for the state time to evaluate one of the defendants and to review a file in an abuse and neglect proceeding.

James N. Mauldin, 21, and Jasmine K. Dawkins, 23, were indicted in May on one count of death of a child by parent, guardian and/or custodian by child abuse, two counts of gross child neglect creating substantial risk of serious bodily injury and one count of presentation of false information regarding a child’s injuries in the death of Kaiwon Connelly.

Mauldin, who is the boy’s father, also was indicted on one count of child abuse causing serious bodily and malicious assault.

The couple’s trial originally was scheduled for Dec. 10 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge John C. Yoder, who agreed to the continuance Thursday at what was to be the defendants’ pretrial hearing.

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Mauldin and Dawkins, who have been released on bond from Eastern Regional Jail since being arraigned on the charges, both waived their right to a speedy trial Thursday.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said after Thursday’s hearing that the results of an evaluation of Dawkins by a defense expert raised issues that the state will explore through its own evaluation, which has yet to be conducted.

Police allege that Dawkins knowingly allowed Mauldin to inflict injuries on the boy that led to the boy’s death. Both are accused of failing to seek medical care for burns on the child’s buttocks and legs and after knowing that Mauldin struck the boy in the head, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges the couple also falsely stated to authorities that Kaiwon Connelly fell and struck his head, causing the injuries in question.

Dawkins, whose address on her indictment was listed as 2749 Pinewood Drive in Waldorf, Md., is not the boy’s biological mother, authorities have said.

Police have said Kaiwon had multiple head injuries, including a fractured skull and brain bleeds. Dawkins told police the injuries were the result of Mauldin punching the boy several times a few days before the boy was hospitalized.

The boy died at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., police said.

Dawkins told police she did not report Mauldin’s alleged mistreatment of his son because she was afraid of being abused herself, according to court documents.

Dawkins told police she had been previously abused.

Police were told the boy was burned with skillets and pans that were heated and placed underneath the child to keep him from sitting on the floor. The boy was expected to remain in a squatted position while being disciplined, police have said.

At the time of the boy’s death, the couple’s address was listed in court records as 214 Joshua Drive, Apt. 616, which is where police responded to investigate an “EMS assist-cardiac arrest” call on Dec. 31, 2011.

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