Father of 2-year-old beating victim says system failed son, death preventable

Around the South

LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) – Jayden Hines was just 2 years old, a little boy who loved playing basketball. Last Thursday, the toddler’s life came to a sudden, tragic end. 

Now Jayden’s father tells CBS 17’s sister station WFLA that his son’s death could have been prevented if only people had listened.

Jayden was only 2 years old, but he used his words to communicate that he didn’t want to go to his mother’s house. The toddler split his time between his mom and dad’s house and records show Jayden’s dad expressed safety concerns to the court noting Jayden didn’t want to go to his mom’s house.

On April 8, in accordance with the court-ordered custody agreement, Hines dropped off his son.

Lakeland police say, Alegray Jones, a man dating Jayden’s mother, beat the young boy until he was unconscious. Instead of calling 911, he texted the child’s mother who rushed home from work.

Police say at no time did Jones make any attempts to call for emergency assistance for Jayden’s well-being.

An autopsy performed on Jayden showed multiple bruises throughout the entirety of the child’s body, a laceration to the liver, bleeding of the brain, and likely an adult human bite mark to the left forearm.

Jayden’s death was ruled a homicide due to multiple blunt force trauma.

“It’s excruciating pain to even think about what I could’ve done better in order for me to prevent this from happening,” Rashawd tells WFLA. “I just wish, I would’ve just kept him that day.”

Rashawd says he warned the Florida Department of Children and Families and the court.

“How many more kids the system has to fail in order for this message to get through to them that things need to change,” Rashawd said. “After I called DCF no one did anything, after me stating to the judge no one did anything.”

On February 12, 2021, Rashawd Hines filed a letter with the Polk County Clerk of Court.  He requested a new hearing citing concerns writing Judge Torea Spohr in part, “I strongly feel for the safety of my children… my son cries his eyes out when he has to go…”

On Monday, 8 On Your Side reached out to Judge Spohr and DCF. Judge Spohr had no comment and DCF tells 8 On Your Side they’re still researching the case.

Rashawd’s days are dark but he’s doing his best to stay strong for Jayden.

“I will not stop and I hope you guys don’t stop to get my son’s story out there. Push it, push it, make sure everybody knows the truth. Push my son’s story because he deserved better,” Rashawd said.

The state attorney is still investigating and more charges could come in Jones’ case.

If you’re in this situation, you are asked to call the clerk’s office. There are procedures you must follow to get a new hearing.

We’ve requested public records and we’ll follow the state’s death investigation.

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