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Second member of slain toddler’s family charged with murder

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From left, Savannah Morganne Baker, Jessica Eve Baker and Alonzo Troy "A.J." Roane / August 24, 2016
A second member of the family of Alonzo Troy “A.J.” Roane, a 3-year-old Halifax child who died Feb. 3 of blunt force trauma injuries, has been charged with first degree murder.

A Mecklenburg County grand jury on Thursday issued a direct indictment against Savannah Morganne Baker of La Crosse, who is the daughter of Jessica Eve Baker of Boydton, the deceased toddler’s step-grandmother and last known caregiver. Jessica Baker, 39, is facing a charge of first degree murder in the child’s death, and she and her attorney were in Mecklenburg County Circuit Court on Friday to seek a postponement of her case.

Savannah Baker was taken into custody by the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office one day before her mother appeared in court. She is being held at Pamunkey Regional Jail in Hanover County, without bond.

Jessica Baker has been incarcerated at the Meherrin River Regional Jail since her arrest in mid-February.

Authorities have steadfastly declined to say if the murder charges against both Baker women — mother and daughter — are related, but the alleged offense that gave rise to the indictment of Savannah Baker took place on Feb. 2, the same day that A.J. was initially injured.

Asked if there is a direct connection between the cases, acting Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Nash demurred: “Since these are ongoing prosecutions, I ethically cannot comment on either case.”

Savannah Baker is the step-aunt of Roane, who prior to his death lived with his parents and other relatives in a number of different places, including Boydton and Halifax. The three-year-old boy was the child of Spring and Terrence Bryant, who, when they weren’t living in Southside Virginia, moved from home to home in Virginia, Florida and Texas. They returned to the area to live in and around the Love Shop neighborhood of Halifax in late summer or early fall of 2015.

Terrence Bryant, A.J.’s stepfather, is a sibling to Savannah Baker and son of Jessica Baker.

The child died at VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill, where Jessica Baker was headed on the evening of Feb. 3 when her vehicle was intercepted by Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Clayton, near Park View High School. According to 911 reports, A.J. was having difficulty breathing that day. Clayton followed Baker and the rescue squad to the hospital’s emergency room, where A.J. was pronounced dead.

The injuries occurred while the child was in Baker’s care, at her Boydton home on Mineral Springs Road. Following an autopsy, the medical examiner in Richmond determined that Roane died from blunt force trauma.

Jessica Baker was arrested on Feb. 16 in Dickenson County in southwest Virginia after being indicted for murder earlier that day by a Mecklenburg County grand jury.

On Friday, she and her defense attorney were back in court in Boydton seeking more time to prepare a defense against the charges she faces, which include two counts of child abuse and one count of felony homicide.

Hopewell attorney Robert L. Lichtenstein, representing Baker, told Mecklenburg Circuit Court Judge Leslie Osborn that he is in the process of reviewing “voluminous evidence” and that his client has agreed to waive her right to a speedy trial by requesting a postponement of the case: “We want to put our best foot forward.”

Speaking after the hearing, Lichtenstein said, “My client will be pleading not guilty, and we will be mounting a vigorous defense.” He also suggested that he may request a change of venue, due to the publicity surrounding the child’s death.

At the conclusion of Friday’s proceedings, Osborn set a next review date of Sept. 13, at which time Lichtenstein said he would be filing a request for bond and several other motions. Osborn added that he would set a trial date at that hearing. Baker remains incarcerated after Friday’s hearing.

Josh Hatchell, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney assigned to prosecute the case, did not object to Lichtenstein’s request for additional time.

Savannah Baker is scheduled to appear in Mecklenburg County Circuit Court on Sept. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

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I think they should hang them all even if they didn't do the killing they watched an offered no help to this precious baby.


That baby had seizures did u no that they would never hurt that baby so get your story straight they were self inflicted injuries.


Seizures?? My grandson didn't have seizures of any kind... what are you talking about and where did you get your Misinformation??


Self inflicted? He was 3 years old. What he do throw himself outta a 2 story window.Commonly pple blame the victim in many scenarios.Because to believe the evil in some people is too scary to think about.But a 3 year old comminting suicide is about the lowest I've ever heard.


Let me guess, they are gonna change the venue to Dickenson County where her uncle is Commonwealth?


Where were u at Robin? Why wasn't ur lazy a** watching him? You failed him by leaving him in that situation. Shut up.

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