Mistrial declared in Wayne murder case involving toddler who drank drain cleaner

bmusgrave@herald-leader.comJune 20, 2012 

A mistrial was declared Tuesday in the trial of a Wayne County man charged with murder in the death of his 20-month-old toddler.

Circuit Judge Vernon Miniard Jr. declared the mistrial after a jury could not be seated in Russell County. More than 70 potential jurors were called for the trial of Bryan Daniels, 21, who was charged after his son, Kayden Branham Daniels, drank drain cleaner that allegedly had been used to make methamphetamine in May 2009.

The trial had been moved from Wayne County to Russell County because of concerns about pretrial publicity.

Mark Stanziano, Daniels' lawyer, said too many potential jurors had heard about the case or formed opinions. Some jurors could not serve during the entire two-week trial, he said.

Miniard has set a hearing for July 2 to discuss a change of venue and another trial date.

Stanziano said it's possible the case will be moved to Warren County, where residents of Bowling Green and other parts of the county are not as likely to have heard details about the widely publicized case.

Daniels remains in jail.

He was charged with murder after he and his girlfriend, Alisha Branham, 14, brought their son home to a trailer that other people had used earlier in the day to cook methamphetamine.

Daniels and Branham had taken Kayden to relatives' homes during the day, according to court documents. When they returned, Kayden asked for a drink. While his mother looked for Kayden's pajamas and Daniels went to the kitchen to get juice, Kayden drank from a mug that contained liquid drain cleaner. He later died.

Kayden and Alisha Branham had been removed from their home by state social workers and placed in foster care, but they were later returned to Alisha Branham's mother. They were under the state's supervision at the time of Kayden's death.

The case has been highlighted by those who are pushing for legislation to limit the amount of cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine that people may buy.

Daniels has pleaded not guilty. Stanziano said his client did nothing wrong.

"He is not guilty of any crime," Stanziano said. "He did not make methamphetamine. He did not help anybody make methamphetamine. He took the child out of the home and he had no say over what happened in that home."

Beth Musgrave: (502) 875-3793. Twitter: @BGPolitics. Blog: bluegrasspolitics.bloginky.com

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