Butler County Times Gazette
  • UPDATED: Haag sentenced to 31 months in death of daughter

  • Judge David Ricke sentenced Alyssa Hagg to 31 months in prison today in the death of her daughter, Jayla.
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  • Alyssa Haag will serve 31 months in prison after accepting a plea deal in the death of her 18-month-old daughter Jayla.
    The murder count was amended to be involuntary man slaughter on May 31 and sentencing set for Friday.
    Member's of Jayla's family were split asking for the maximum sentence as well as leniency from the court.
    Jayla's paternal great-aunt, Stacy Lewis, spoke first.
    "I will never get to love her like I do my other nieces and nephews," she said. "Alyssa's actions have changed the course of our family forever. No holiday will pass without us missing her and wondering what life would have been like without her. Alyssa failed Jayla in the worst way possible. I ask you give Alyssa the maximum sentence allowed. For her, this is only a bump in the road. For our families it will be a lifetime of what ifs and what could have beens."
    Wendy Vittitow, Jayla's paternal grandmother, also addressed the court.
    "I'm up here on behalf of my son, Jayla's dad," she said. "I want to start by telling a little background on Jayla's relationship with her dad, which wasn't much."
    She said her son, Tyler, was only able to see Jayla when it was convenient for Alyssa, when she wanted something or when she didn't have a man in her life.
    "He would have loved to change that but he didn't have the money to hire an attorney," she said.
    She went on to say no one called them when Jayla was hurt and she had to make calls herself to find out what had happened.
    "After several meetings with doctors over the next week or so Tyler had to make the hardest decision he will probably ever have to make in his life and that was to take his little girl off of life support," Vittitow said. "Jayla was, is and will forever be a beautiful little girl who is missed by so many. We only had the privilege of seeing Jayla a few times but when we did she put a smile on our faces and she was such a joy to be around."
    She asked the judge to consider their family in the sentencing saying her son will never get to see his little girl grow up or walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.
    Marci Beatty, Jayla's maternal grandmother, also addressed the court.
    "I have been with Alyssa since this incident happened," Beatty said. "There is not a day that has gone by that she has not admitted she did wrong in the situation. There's not a day that goes by that she doesn't miss Jayla, not a day goes by she doesn't wish she could change things. She is not a violent person. She is a very loving and caring person."
    Page 2 of 3 - She said Alyssa needs counseling.
    "She has to deal with this situation the rest of her life as well," Beatty said. "She may never know what happened to Jayla as well.
    Ryan Beatty, Jayla's paternal great-grandfather, also spoke.
    "We have all been affected by it and will continue to be affected by it," he said. "It has been hard to deal with. We feel the investigation and court proceedings have been thorough and fair. Our position is we certainly ask for a continuation of the fairness and thoroughness as we get into the actual sentencing today."
    He said Alyssa has indicated she would like to get an education and do something with her life related to this tragedy to honor Jayla's memory.
    Ricke then asked the counselors what their recommendations were.
    Devinney said they recommended 31 months and acknowledged her 141 days of jail time credit.
    He also pointed out the court had heard comments from both sides and asked the court to consider the other comments to the extent they are pertinent.
    Ricke asked why the lesser sentence.
    "It was the deal struck between the defense and the state," Devinney said. "It is not decreasing the loss this family felt."
    Alyssa's attorney said they accepted the plea because "we felt if we went to trial it would be difficult to overcome the facts. She admits she has done wrong. She did not see the outcome ever to be a death. We did come to this agreement and we were not able to get a lower agreement to aggravated endangerment of a child simply because it was not offered.
    "I think going to trial would have meant a 20-to-life sentence. It was too much to risk."
    She asked the court to honor the plea deal.
    She went on to talk about the health issues Alyssa has been having.
    When asked if she wanted to make a statement, Alyssa said through tears, "I can't."
    The judge then continued with the sentencing.
    "I can't imagine what it's like to live every day with the loss of a baby daughter," Ricke said. "A loss you have to live with. But make no mistake about it, the reason you're here facing sentencing is because you didn't do what you needed to do as a mother to protect and care for your baby and because of that she died; a true tragedy. A sweet child who deserved to be treated better and raised better than she was. At this point you need to be held accountable."
    He sentenced her to 31 months in the Department of Corrections, with the possibility to earn up to 15 percent good time credit, and to be subject to 24 months post release supervision. She also has to register as an offender.
    Page 3 of 3 - Ricke also encouraged her to take advantage of any counseling or other programs available to her while in prison.
    "It isn't the end of your life and you are going to return to the community at some point," he said. "Anything you can do in prison to improve yourself or to make yourself better after this experience is something the court believes you should do."
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