Verdict reached in trial of man accused of pouring hot oil on woman, toddler
The woman and her 17-month-old son suffered heavy burns.
HAMILTON, Ohio (WXIX) - A jury returned with a guilty verdict Friday for the man on trial for pouring hot cooking oil on his cousin and her 17-month-old son.
After several days of testimony, Michael Maloney was found guilty on two counts of felonious assault and one count of aggravated burglary.
The judge sentenced Maloney to a mandatory 37 years. He could serve up to 42.5 years, the judge explained.
The victim, Jayla Witt, was in court Friday but left before the verdict was announced because of the stress of the trial, her dad said.
Prosecutor Brad Burress read from a letter Witt wrote to the court.
“I couldn’t hold my baby for the first month after being home... I opened my home to you, I fed you,” the letter read.
The detectives who ran the investigation testified for a full day Thursday, delving into evidence they say shows Maloney in the house belonging to his cousin, Jayla Witt, on the day of the alleged offense.
It happened Dec. 21 at Witt’s home on Grand Boulevard in Hamilton.
Maloney broke into the home around 7:50 a.m. and burned Witt with the hot oil while she and the child were sleeping. She suffered heavy scarring to her face, and the child’s arm was burned.
The detectives testified they have Maloney on camera going to Kroger to buy a bottle of cooking oil. Prosecutors say he is seen going into Witt’s home around 7:34, where they say he cooked the oil in a saucepan.
Prosecutors showed pictures of that saucepan in the bedroom and showed the jury photos of what appeared to be burn marks on the sheet and pillows.
Detective Tony Nichtine with Hamiton PD interviewed Maloney twice, the first time two days after the attack. A recording of that interview was played in court. [Nichtine mistakenly calls Witt Maloney’s “niece.”]
”I just want the truth,” Nichtine told Maloney. “I mean, we’re going to go in front of a jury, whatever the case may be, and they’re going to see this kid. You should see his arm right now. He’s lucky if he doesn’t lose it. You should see your niece right now. You should see her face right now, her back from having skin graphs. Removing skin off her back to put on her face and chest. Now if you can live with that, that’s on you.”
The judge said Maloney gave four different versions of where he was and what happened that morning, including an initial denial that he was at the house at all.
Another account, per Maloney: “When I came in, I heard them up there arguing, and next I know she’s [expletive] screaming, and somebody took off.”
When Detective Nichtine noticed a bandage on Maloney’s finger during the first interview, he asked about it, but Maloney wouldn’t remove the bandage.
The detective got a warrant and met with Maloney two days later to see what appeared to be a burned finger, That’s when Maloney changed his story for a fourth time.
“It was truly an accident. I didn’t go there to intentionally hurt her. Never hurt her,” he said.
James Witt, Jayla’s father, previously told FOX19 that Maloney acted because Jayla made him move out of her home where he had been staying.
“Jayla gave him a place to stay for a couple of nights because she’s got a soft heart like that,” James said. “When she asked him to leave, I’m sure that’s what’s made him mad, and that’s the reason he’s done this because she threw him out.”
One of the focuses in court on Wednesday was an alleged deal between Maloney and Jayla to exchange Maloney’s food stamps for cash.
Video below is from shortly after the incident.
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