Accused child killer asks for bond

Gloria Gomez reports

- Hillsborough prosecutors say the last two weeks of 3-year-old John Taylor Baxley's life was filled with abuse at the hands of his father and father's then-girlfriend.

Justin Garwacki and Kara O'Connell were accused in the child's death, but Garwacki cut a deal for a lighter sentence in exchange for testifying against O'Connell. Earlier this year, O'Connell was found guilty of manslaughter.

Now, she wants out of jail while she appeals her conviction. Her attorney believes she should qualify for bond, but Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Johnson is fighting to keep her in jail. 

The prosecution says O'Connell found love with another female inmate while she sat in jail awaiting trial. The prosecutor listened to jailhouse calls between the two and said they talked about living together if O'Connell was allowed bond out.

But this week, that all changed when O'Connell and the female inmate had a disagreement.

"They were in an argument as early as this Monday, the 12 of December, where she told her girlfriend, as well as Kara O'Connell's mother, she would not be living there. She could not live there because she believed her girlfriend had cheated on her," Johnson said.

The state argued O'Connell is a flight risk because she had no close ties to the community and no family or friends to stay with.

Her girlfriend, Sarah Martinez, disagreed.

"If she doesn't want to live with me, she could live with my mother," Martinez said. "My mother got really close to her. She calls her her daughter."

Prosecutors also told the judge that O'Connell had lost custody of her daughter, Maddie, but was trying to her back.

"Because, of all the actions that occurred to JT, it's the state's position she doesn't need to be around any children," explained Johnson.

But O'Connell's mother, Cheryl O'Connell who lives in New York, said she is the one petitioning to have custody of Maddie.

"The conversation was regarding me adopting my granddaughter," said Cheryl O'Connell.

She also said if she was successful adopting Maddie, she would live in Staten Island, New York with her. The judge said he will have a decision sometime next week.

 App Store Get it on Google Play

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories