Brianna Kichelle Hester
November 17, 2007 - May 1, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial

Most of us can't begin to imagine what it would be like to watch our father, kill a child. Alijah Jones is not someone who can say that. Alijah was ten years old and had to prepare to tell a courtroom full of people exactly what he had seen when Daryl Keon Jones, his father, abused and killed Brianna Kichelle Hester, who was only 17 months old, on April 30, 2009. Kim Hester was the live in girlfriend of Daryl Jones, though he was not the father of her daughter, Brianna. Kim was enrolled in nursing school and Daryl would baby sit while she attended classes. Living in the home with the couple, other than Brianna, were Daryl's three children, two daughters ages three and vie and a son, Alijah, who was eight years old.

Brianna was considered to be a miracle child, since her mother suffered with Endometriosis and with many complications and at one point, the possibility of a hysterectomy, it was thought that Kim would never be able to get pregnant. Kim made a decision that the pain she was going through was not something she could live with, so she was going to have a hysterectomy. At her next visit with the doctor, Kim found out she was already pregnant and that changed her plans for the surgery. Kim and her mother, Debra Hester, were excited and started making plans for this miracle to enter their lives.

Brianna came into the world a beautiful, happy baby, Kim was truly blessed with this little miracle. About a year after giving birth, Kim met a man named Daryl who seemed to be everything anyone could want in a man. Brianna was not even a year old when Kim made the decision that she and her daughter were going to move in with Daryl. Kim wanted the best for Brianna so she decided to enroll in school to become a nurse.

In November of 2008, Brianna turned one year old, a happy occasion for sure, however, life had taken a dark turn as Kim's family started noticing that Kim was distancing herself from them, they saw less of her and Brianna and then one day they started to notice that Brianna seemed to always have bruises when they DID see her. Kim passed it off by saying that Brianna was learning to walk and seemed to fall a lot. Debra noticed that Brianna had a turn on her
eft foot and leg, so an appointment was made for her to see a Pediatrician.
Grandmother Debra

Brianna was given a clean bill of health with nothing to be concerned about, the Pediatrician said she would probably grow out of it by the time she was 18 months old.

At the age of 16 months old, Brianna suddenly and without warning, stopped walking at all. In 2009, Brianna was taken to the doctor and was admitted to the hospital so that tests could be done to find out what was wrong. Five days after being admitted, Brianna, once again, was given a clean bill of health, doctors could find nothing wrong and they said that she probably had Acute Cerebral Ataxia, which would have been caused by an unknown virus. Doctors predicted that the virus would run its course and then she would be fine. The doctors had seen old and new bruising on Brianna's head and they reported that to the Department Of Family And Children's Services, saying that the bruising was suspicious, though further testing showed nothing. Kim's family was happy because now that DEFACS was involved, maybe they might be able to get answers and help for Brianna if she needed it.

Brianna was discharged from the hospital and seemed to be improving and even began to walk some, but she walked with a limp that seemed to be painful. DEFACS tried to visit Brianna at home, but was unsuccessful because she was out of the home with Kim. In April of 2009, Kim's family had called in at least five more complaints to DEFACS when family and friends started noticing that Brianna had more and more bruising. Kim was distancing herself more and more because she felt her family was being overly concerned about Brianna. Debra tried to visit and was not allowed to enter the home, though she was able to see new bruising on Brianna as well as a cut over her eye. Kim explained it away claiming Brianna had done it to herself. Debra also noticed that Brianna had raw, red knuckles and Kim said that she was digging at her own knuckles until they would bleed. Debra went straight to DEFACS to report what she had seen and was told that Brianna was on the list to be seen the next day, that visit never took place and that would be a huge mistake on the part of the Case Worker.

Just eight short days later, on April 30, 2009,  the call was made that Brianna was being taken to the hospital. Daryl had called Kim at school to say that Brianna had fallen and hit her head and was not breathing. Hospital staff could do nothing for Brianna and she was life flighted to another hospital. Brianna was brain dead by the time she reached the hospital and was placed on life support. Kim had to make the decision to take her daughter off of life support and the miracle baby, Brianna, died, on May 1, 2009.

This is another case, among hundreds and growing, of the Departments set up by the government to take care of, guard,
watch over and protect the children in our world, the most innocent, the most undeserving of pain and they FAILED. The system failed Brianna as they have so many children in the past and probably will fail an ever growing number in the future. I can't imagine how they can live with the deaths that have come about because they wouldn't do their job. The senseless death of these children seems to go unpunished, in most cases. The workers complain of being over worked and understaffed. Those in charge talk of changes that will be made, yet year after year, we hear of more and more children who have died though they were in the system in one way or the other.

Daryl Keon Jones, who was 33 years old at the time, was arrested and charged with felony murder. 
James Yancey Jr., Daryl's lawyer said that Daryl loved Brianna like she was his own child and would never hurt her, though he said that Cynthia Jones, Alijah's mother had been coaching him so that he would say his father did this, because they were in the middle of a divorce, calling Alijah a troubled boy and stating:

"The evidence will show Daryl Keon Jones is not the one responsible for
this child's tragic death"

Police Sgt. Bill Daras testified as to what Alijah had told him:

"Alijah told me he witnessed his father pick Brianna up by the throat and he
slammed her forehead into the ground nine or ten times. He showed me how
his father did it, with his hand on the back of Brianna's neck"

Alijah, who was ten years old by this time, testified that he had seen his father choke Brianna and slam her head into the floor of their home. Alijah's mother was never called to the stand or to testify in any way. Unfortunately, Alijah's testimony was not enough information for the jury who deadlocked on a decision of felony murder and first degree cruelty to children:

"The majority of jurors felt the state did not meet its burden of proof. There were
a lot of unanswered questions. It was an extremely difficult decision for everyone"
Forewoman - Sylvia Duane Shearer

Other jurors said they followed their conscience as well as the law and none of them believed that Daryl had maliciously killed Brianna. If any of them had bothered to look up the laws definition of the word malicious, they would have felt differently, in my opinion:

ma-li-cious 2. Law, vicious, wanton, or mischievous in motivation or purpose.

How much more vicious and unprovoked could it have been? What could a child that age have done to provoke a disabled Army Veteran to kill her in such a vicious way? In my opinion, this was a jury full of IDIOTS! Daryl was acquitted and was able to return home because he was suffering from kidney disease and needed medical treatments and jailing him would cause financial as well as transportation problems. Daryl was facing a second trial for a second murder charge and felony child abuse and went home. A juror tried to provide answers as for why they didn't convict Daryl based on what Alijah had testified to:

"Not that we mistrusted the young man's testimony, but we felt there wasn't
enough corroborating information"
Genevieve Cate

Apparently the jury wanted more evidence that what he was saying was true. The jury was shown video of Alijah talking to police and the children's advocacy, of course being only eight years old, his testimony was not as easy as it would have been for an adult and he stumbled a bit. What did this jury expect? The fact was that this boy had been a witness to the death of a child at the hands of his father. It took the jury only six hours to make their ridiculous ruling, some saying they were not happy about the verdict.

What further evidence did this jury need?
Brianna's autopsy showed that she had at least 36 head and neck injuries which included what was called a high impact wound to the top of her head, which is usually found in car crash victims. One side of Brianna's brain was completely flattened. It sounds to me like these injuries HAD to be caused by someone bigger than an eight year old and the evidence CLEARLY pointed to the only adult who was there when this child was savagely beaten to death.

Brianna and her Grandfather Glenn

A mistrial was declared and prosecutors were deciding if they would retry Daryl on the other charges. District Attorney, Jackie Johnson wanted to talk to Brianna's family and do a thorough review of the evidence before she made a decision on to if she was going to pursue the remaining charges. REALLY? It may sound cruel, but I don't care WHAT family members said, that man had killed a child and needed to be in prison:

"We appreciate the jurors service, consideration of the evidence and their efforts to come to a unanimous decision"
Jackie Johnson

Brianna's family did not seem to share her sentiments:

"We are all just completely devastated. We believe his actions caused Brianna's death and that the evidence showed he clearly is responsible for it"
Glenn Hester - maternal grandfather

It was reported that for sure, Brianna's family wanted Daryl to be retried for what he had done to their miracle Angel:
"Debbie's just inconsolable over this and Kim, I don't know what she's
going to do. This has nearly destroyed us"
Glenn Hester

While my heart goes out to Debra and Glenn, I have to say that Kim is not without blame in what happened to Brianna. Kim saw the bruises and obviously she KNEW that something was not right with her daughter. Typically, women who know their children are being abused are ashamed and shy away from their family and friends to hide what they don't want them to know. Children who are abused tend to shy away from their abusers, not want to be around them and show signs of distress, NO ONE will convince me that Kim knew NOTHING about the abuse her daughter was suffering at the hands of his monster. Time and time again I have said it, women need to STOP choosing men over their children, it disgusts me and they have no business having children if they are not willing to protect those children at all costs. A man in your life is NOTHING compared to the genuine love you get from a child!

Daryl had nothing to say to anyone after court, though his lawyer made sure to let people know that the trial had taken a big toll on him emotionally and physically since he needs dialysis three times a week, adding:

"We're obviously please with the acquittal on the malice murder charge and will
await the district attorney's decision whether she will see a retrial on the other
two charges"
James Yancey Jr.

In August of 2012, a jury who obviously had their heads on straight, convicted Daryl on the murder and cruelty to children charges. It only took this jury two hours to decide that this monster had, indeed, murdered Brianna. Alijah had testified in this trial as well and once again, Daryl had testified that maybe Alijah was the one to cause the injuries that lead to the death of Brianna.
Superior Court Judge, Anthony Harrison sentenced Daryl to life in prison and then Daryl was taken back to jail.

Why is it that time after time, even when people do the right thing by reporting child abuse, the children are the ones who pay the ultimate price, they lose their lives and visitations with them end up being in the cemetery? These children who are loved so much by those who want to protect them, are being let down by a system that seems to not care one way are the other. Why are they letting them become Angels too soon!?!

I want to thank Debra, Brianna's grandmother, for making me aware of the story of this precious little Angel. My heart breaks for her and all of those like her who lose their loved ones to child abuse.

This page was created on May 21, 2104
Death occurred in Georgia

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