Before Justin Andrews beat his girlfriend’s 18-month-old daughter to d*eath, he ripped six teeth out of her mouth.
On March 21, 2008, Alyssa Haag called her mother and asked her to drive her 18-month-old daughter, Jayla Watters, from her El Dorado apartment to a Topeka hospital. Jayla was limp, her eyes rolled back in her head. Jayla’s grandmother repeated the story Alyssa had told her about the injuries: she had fallen down a flight of stairs.
Jayla’s tiny body bore black and blue bruises in various stages of healing and burn marks across her skin. Six teeth were missing, she was extremely malnourished, suffered a fractured jaw and severe head trauma. The inside of her jaw showed bite marks, likely indicating she had chewed on her cheek, likely as a soothing mechanism.
Jayla tested positive for crystal meth and suffered swelling in her brain.
Doctors knew immediately that Jayla had not fallen down a flight of stairs. Her injuries indicated she was an ab*use victim.
An Anonymous Call to the E.R.
As doctors worked to save Jayla’s life, an anonymous call came into the facility. The caller, later identified as Jennifer Corter, the neighbor of Amber Haag and Justin Edwards, warned staff that baby Jayla could very well have meth in her system.
She told hospital staff how she heard what sounded like Jayla choking and gasping for air earlier in the day. Concerned about what she heard, Jennifer visited her neighbors. Jayla looked unwell, so Jennifer recommended she take her to a hospital.
Amber ignored the advice, instead discussing with Justin how Jayla might test positive for meth because everyone smoked around her. Jennifer returned home, later receiving a text message stating, “he wanted to make sure that everyone in the house said that he does not touch the girl.”
As Jayla fought for her life in the hospital, investigators searched Amber and Justin’s home. Along with a bloody shirt and blankets, investigators found two pairs of pliers on a nightstand beside a dented Altoids can. Alyssa claimed “Jayla grinded her teeth out” after police located those items. Additionally, officers found five loosened teeth with the roots still attached.
Jayla Removed From Life Support
Eight days after baby Jayla was admitted to the hospital, doctors told her family that she would “have no chance for a normal life because of brain damage.” They recommended she be taken off life support. Jayla died on March 30, 2012.
Police spoke with Alyssa again after Jayla’s de*ath. It took time, although she eventually gave them a better idea of what happened that night. She blamed Justin for most of Jayla’s injuries.
She told them she and Justin regularly smoked meth around Jayla as did friends they invited over. Alyssa also confessed that she had witnessed Justin choke Jayla, although never stopped him. The night before Jayla was admitted to the hospital, Amber told them their older daughter was crying because her dad was choking Jayla.
She went on to tell them that she walked into the bedroom with Edwards and Jayla. He got mad when she saw him holding Jayla under her chin and squeezing her as Jayla screamed. He pressed harder and harder until Jayla stopped crying.
Seemingly unconcerned, Amber left for about 10 minutes. She found Jayla lying across Justin’s lap when she returned. Jayla’s eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was jerking. Justin told Amber not to worry because “all babies have seizures.”
Justin pushed an Altoids can in Jayla’s mouth. According to Amber, he pushed the can in and out of her mouth, which had loosened several teeth.
As the night progressed, a couple of friends visited the home. After seeing Jayla, they suggested Amber and Justin take her to the hospital. After waiting a couple more hours in what Amber said she knew was “too long,” Jayla was taken to the hospital because she was afraid her daughter would test positive for meth because “everyone in the house smoked.”
Justin and Alyssa Charged With Mu*rder
Justin Edwards and Alyssa Haag were arrested, and charged with Jayla’s m*urder.
Justin received a sentence of 128 months in prison, the maximum allowed by law for his charges. Alyssa claimed the only thing she was guilty of was failing to protect her daughter as if that somehow made it better. She was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison.
Jayla’s Father Wins $75k Lawsuit Against State of Kansas
Jayla’s father, Steven Watters, filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas after her de*ath. Despite reporting his suspicion that his daughter was being ab*used by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, the state failed to investigate. The State of Kansas did not investigate those claims. Watters won a $75,000 settlement in the lawsuit.