JONESBORO, Ga. – We first told you about Jayden Harvey as part of our series of stories about the Department of Family and Children's Services and their failure to protect children within their scope of care.
The 2-year-old died from a fractured skull in 2009. The boy's stepfather, Kember Matthews, is now on trial for murder.
No cameras were allowed in the courtroom while 6 year-old Ashton Capers took the stand to testify in day one of his stepfather's murder trial. But his testimony was as damaging to the defense as it was heartbreaking to listen to. Ashton – who is Jayden Harvey's older brother – said their stepfather punched him and his brother.
Police said Ashton suffered serious internal bleeding, and nearly died. Jayden, according to the autopsy report, suffered a fractured skull and was pronounced dead at the hospital. Despite a DFCS investigation that found no evidence of abuse or neglect, the boys' grandmother, Shannon Harvey, testified the children lived in fear of their stepfather.
"Did you ask him if Kem hit Ashton in the stomach?" asked the prosecutor.
"Yes," Harvey answered tearfully on the stand.
"Mrs. Harvey, tell us, what was his answer?" the prosecutor said.
"Yes," she repeated.
"Did you ask him if he'd hit him with a fist?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yes," Harvey said.
"What was his answer?" the prosecutor asked.
"Yes," she replied.
One of the cruel ironies of this case is that a DFCS worker met with the family two days before Jayden's death. That caseworker gave the family a glowing review, and was on the verge of closing out the case entirely. But before the paperwork could be filed, Jayden was dead.