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Jackson County man charged in baby’s murder

Benjamin Taylor being held without bond

Benjamin Taylor

RIPLEY — A Cottageville man accused of sexually assaulting a 10-month-old girl who died from the injuries she sustained in the attack was arraigned Thursday morning on a charge of first-degree murder.

Benjamin Ryan Taylor, 32, of 119 Rondis Hollow Road, is being held in the South Central Regional Jail without bond after his arraignment in Jackson County Magistrate Court. His bond was previously set at $2 million on a charge of first-degree sexual assault.

Bond for a murder charge must be set in circuit court. A preliminary hearing in Jackson County Circuit Court has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, on the sexual assault count, but a date has not been scheduled for the murder charge, according to Kristin Carpenter-Smith, Jackson County Magistrate clerk.

The child’s name is redacted in the criminal complaint, but she has been identified in published reports as Emmaleigh Elizabeth Barringer. A GoFundMe campaign set up to assist the family with expenses has exceeded its $20,000 goal.

According to a criminal complaint filed by Jackson County Sheriff’s Detective R.H. Mellinger, the child was discovered by her mother in the basement of their apartment at 8 Meadowlark Lane in Ripley with Taylor, the mother’s boyfriend. He told police he took the child down there the previous night while doing laundry and claimed he did not know how she sustained her severe injuries. Taylor later said he had blacked out.

The girl was taken initially to Jackson General Hospital, then transferred to Charleston Area Medical Center. The attending emergency room physician at Jackson General said her injuries were consistent with violent sexual assault and shaken baby syndrome, the complaint says.

The complaint says the investigating officer obtained a recorded phone conversation between Taylor and his mother in which Taylor denied molesting the child but said he “did do something bad.”

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