Wayne County father on trial in boy's death says he thought drain cleaner was juice

Kayden Branham, 22 months old, died after ingesting a drain cleaner used in cooking meth. He was about a year old in this photo.
Kayden Branham, 22 months old, died after ingesting a drain cleaner used in cooking meth. He was about a year old in this photo.

BOWLING GREEN — The father of a 20-month-old boy who died after drinking drain cleaner told police he thought the liquid in the cup the boy picked up was juice.

If he had known the cup contained poison, he would have poured it out instead of leaving it where his son could reach it, Bryan Daniels told police just hours after his son, Kayden, died on May 30, 2009, in Wayne County.

Daniels is on trial this week on charges that resulted from his son's gruesome death. The trial was moved to Warren Circuit Court after a jury could not be seated in Wayne County. Opening arguments were Tuesday. The trial will continue Thursday with Judge Vernon Miniard presiding.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor, Commonwealth's Attorney Matthew Leveridge, played recordings for jurors of two interviews state police did with Daniels the day after Kayden died.

Daniels, then 19, and Kayden's mother, Alisha Branham, then 14, were staying with the boy at a small mobile home that her father rented.

Alisha Branham and Kayden were supposed to be staying with her mother, Melissa Branham, under the supervision of state child-protective workers.

But her mother's utilities had been turned off, so she moved to the trailer so she could better care for Kayden, Alisha Branham said.

Other people, including Alisha Branham's uncle, Danny Anderson II, allegedly used the trailer as a site to produce methamphetamine in crude homemade labs, including on the day Kayden died.

Drain cleaner containing sulfuric acid can be used in the process of "cooking" meth.

Late on May 30, 2009, as he and his parents were getting ready for bed, Kayden picked up a coffee cup that contained drain cleaner and drank some, suffering severe internal injuries.

He died in about an hour.

In his first statement to police, Daniels denied knowing meth was being made at the trailer.

Later, however, he admitted he knew about it, and he said Anderson told him about planning to make meth there earlier on the day Kayden died.

Branham has testified that she and Daniels always took Kayden away from the trailer when people made meth in order to protect him, and they did so that day.

Branham also said she cleaned the residence to try to make sure nothing dangerous was left behind from meth production the day Kayden died.

However, the coffee cup containing drain cleaner was on a table in the bedroom where Kayden could reach it.

Daniels told police he took the cup away from Kayden after he grabbed it, but then put it back where the boy could still reach it.

"They didn't have no business leaving the stuff out like that," he said, referring to people who had made meth.

Kayden drank from the cup while Daniels was in the kitchen getting him some juice.

Daniels is charged with murder, making meth, endangering his son and being involved in a criminal syndicate to make meth. His attorney, Mark Stanziano, said Daniels did not make meth or kill his son.

Prosecutors could finish their case Thursday.

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