ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. (WAVY) — A mother who pleaded guilty to charges in connection to the death of her 5-year-old son will spend 20 years in prison.
The judge sentenced Jaye Hadley Wednesday on charges of second-degree murder and child abuse for her role in the death of her 5-year-old son Levi Robertson.
The child died at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in January of last year of severe head trauma. Hadley had pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child abuse with serious injury.
Hadley shared a home with her boyfriend Justin Cox, 34, on Yellow Hammer Road in Zuni. First responders were called there when Hadley at first said Levi had fallen from an archery stand in a tree in the backyard.
But investigators said in court Wednesday that on that winter day when the ground was covered with snow, there were no footprints or other evidence in the area where Levi had supposedly fallen.
The investigation found that Levi was continually beaten and had numerous bruises, including shoe imprints on his rear and back.
In his closing argument, prosecutor Steve Edwards compared the boy’s condition to “being tenderized like a cube steak.”
“The beating on the child’s buttocks, and the autopsy photos that came from them, were much more comparable to roadkill than to normally what we’d expect to see in an autopsy,” Edwards said outside the courthouse.
Judge Robert Sandwich called the evidence in the boy’s death appalling.
Cox pleaded guilty earlier this year to similar charges in Levi’s death, and got 10 years from a different judge.
“We asked for the 20 years in Mr. Cox’s case and unfortunately we did not receive that,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Georgette Phillips. “However we did receive that in Mrs. Hadley’s case and I think that that is appropriate.”
Hadley’s sister said she went from one unhealthy relationship with men to another, and Cox was “supposed to be a good upstanding church guy.”
“Her relationship with Cox wasn’t unhealthy,” Edwards countered. “It was lethal. She didn’t make a bad decision, she made a bad trade. She traded that child for that relationship.”
Nathan Forrest’s stepson dated Hadley during most of Levi’s tragically shortened life. He remembers a smiling, smart and loving Levi coming over to visit him and his wife.
“It gets rougher every day,” Forrest said. “He’ll always be in my heart, and around my wrist,” he said, as he showed off a bracelet that contains Levi’s ashes.
Teresa Martin is the grandmother of Hadley’s daughter Alexia. She said Hadley had ample chance to get herself and her 5-year-old son out of what she called the hell house on Yellow Hammer Road.
“All she had to do was call me, and we would have opened our doors to her if we knew that Levi was in danger.”
Prior to sentencing, Hadley told the court she regrets her actions.
“I failed my son in the worst way that a mother can fail her child.”
After Hadley’s two consecutive 10-year terms, she’ll have three years of a suspended sentence and she’ll have to get mental health evaluations.