Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

N.C. Man Arrested in Toddler's Death; 2-Year-Old's Death Is the 11th Such Case in the County

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

N.C. Man Arrested in Toddler's Death; 2-Year-Old's Death Is the 11th Such Case in the County

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan

A 36-year-old North Carolina man who was staying at a Jacksonville hotel has been charged with murder in his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter's beating death, according to the sheriff's office.

The girl's death is among a growing number of cases in Jacksonville this year after children, some as young as a month old, died from injuries ranging from an accidental shooting to physical trauma, according to police and the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Brandon Michael Smith of Willow Spring was located March 28 in Fayetteville, N.C., by U.S. deputy marshals after the sheriff's office issued a warrant for his arrest, police said. He was brought back to Jacksonville Tuesday, then officially charged in Alayna Elizabeth Williamson's death. The 2-year-old and her 21-year-old mother are from Seagrove, N.C.

The child's funeral was March 31 in Seagrove. Her family called her "Lay-Lay" or "Layna" and her smile "could brighten any heart," according to her obituary.

Police said officers were dispatched to Memorial Hospital about 9 a.m. March 22 on a report of a child who had been brought in with serious injuries. The child had been at InTown Suites at 3162 S. St. Johns Bluff Road, then was brought to the hospital. Due to the seriousness of her injuries, Alayna was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville, but later died from what investigators said was multiple blunt force trauma to her head.

In another case last month in Jacksonville, 23-year-old Vung Deih Nuam was arrested March 26 on a charge of child neglect after her 1-month-old child died days after being hospitalized with severe bruising, according to her arrest report. The child's name was not provided by the Sheriff's Office, but WJXT TV-4 reported it as Hannah Htoo. The family lived in the Stonemont Village Apartments in the Spring Park area. …

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