Meth maker warned parents of risk to toddler

bestep@herald-leader.comJune 16, 2009 

MONTICELLO — A man who was allegedly making methamphetamine at a trailer in Wayne County warned 20-month-old Kayden Branham's mother to keep him away from the volatile, explosive process.

But when his parents brought Kayden home to the trailer late on May 30, there was a coffee cup of drain cleaner used in making meth sitting where he could reach it, police said Monday at a hearing for Kayden's father.

Kayden picked up the coffee cup, but his father, Bryan Daniels, took it from him and set it where he thought it was out of reach, Daniels told police.

Daniels said he had left the bedroom to get Kayden a drink when he heard the boy's 14-year-old mother scream, he told police.

Kayden had taken a drink of a corrosive substance called Liquid Fire. He died less than an hour later at the Wayne County hospital, authorities said.

Police have charged Daniels, 19, and Kayden's mother with murder and manufacturing meth.

The murder charge is justified because Daniels knew that making meth was dangerous, but he exposed Kayden to the risks anyway, state police Detective Doug Boyd said.

"He disregarded that danger and a 20-month-old died as a result of it," Boyd said at a preliminary hearing for Daniels on Monday.

Daniels and the girl are Kayden's parents but are not married. Police have not released the mother's name because of her age, but family members have identified her as Alisha Branham.

Four others also are charged with making meth at the trailer where Daniels and Branham near Monticello. They are Wesley T.J. Bell, 24; James Hunt, 24; Alisha Dicken, 21; and Danny Anderson II, 26.

After hearing testimony from state police investigators Monday, District Judge Robin Williams found probable cause to have a grand jury consider charges against the five adults.

The five have pleaded not guilty. The case involving Kayden's mother is private at this point.

At Monday's hearing, Trooper Tony Dingess said that when he went to the emergency room early on May 31, Kayden's mother said that as she came into the trailer at one point the day before, one of the men making meth there asked if Kayden was with her.

The man, whom she identified as Hunt, told her she "needed to get the child out of there," Dingess testified the mother told him.

People "cook" meth by using a chemical process to distill the drug out of cold and allergy medicines.

Daniels, Branham and Kayden were out of the trailer for part of that Saturday, but they came home about 10 p.m., Dingess said.

The three shared the bedroom where the meth was being cooked, Boyd said.

Police said Daniels admitted to letting people make meth at the trailer several times before, but he knew it was a dangerous process.

Daniels said he had cleaned up before Kayden came back to the trailer on earlier occasions, Dingess testified.

Dingess said Daniels first told him a cover story that Kayden had ingested chemicals he found under the sink as his mother washed dishes.

He soon admitted that meth was being made in the house, however, Dingess said.

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