UPDATE: Trial to start in February for man accused of assaulting and killing Jackson County infant

Published: Oct. 4, 2016 at 1:31 PM EDT
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UPDATE: 11/02/2017, 11:14 A.M.

The trial for a man accused of sexually assaulting and killing an infant in Jackson County is scheduled to begin next year.

Benjamin Taylor, of Cottageville, is charged with murder, sexual assault and child abuse in connection with the death of 10-month-old Emmaleigh Barringer.

Taylor appeared in a Jackson County courtroom Wednesday for a pretrial hearing.

At the hearing, the trial was continued until Feb. 13, 2018.

Another pretrial hearing was scheduled for January.

Investigators say in October 2016, Emmaleigh's mom found the baby in the basement of her apartment unresponsive and covered in blood.

Taylor was questioned by deputies. Investigators say Taylor was the mom's boyfriend.

Deputies say he changed his story several times before telling officers he took the baby to the basement, but "blacked out" and didn't remember how the injuries happened. Emmaleigh later died in the hospital from her injuries.

UPDATE: 8/31/2017, 6:25 P.M.

A man accused of sexually assaulting and killing an infant in Jackson County in 2016 was back in court Thursday.

Benjamin Taylor, 32, of Cottageville is charged with murder, sexual assault and child abuse in connection with the death of 10-month-old Emmaleigh Barringer.

Investigators say in October 2016, Emmaleigh's mom found the baby in the basement of her apartment unresponsive and covered in blood.

Taylor was questioned by deputies. Investigators say Taylor was the mom's boyfriend.

Deputies say he changed his story several times before telling officers he took the baby to the basement, but "blacked out" and didn't remember how the injuries happened. Emmaleigh later died in the hospital from her injuries.

Taylor was in court Thursday afternoon for a pre-trial hearing.

No cameras or recording devices were allowed in the courtroom, but WSAZ was the only station with a reporter inside to get the details.

Taylor entered the courtroom through an elevator to the right of the judge's stand. He was accompanied by several members of law enforcement. At least a dozen officers spread out around the room during the hearing.

On top of his orange jumpsuit, Taylor wore a bulletproof vest and a helmet. His hands and feet were shackled.

The pew behind the defendant's table, where the public would normally sit, was taped off with yellow sheriff's tape. The Jackson County Sheriff tells us this was for Taylor's protection, putting more distance between the suspect and others.

Taylor remained still and emotionless in court. Four people sat in the pews on the left side of the room -- Taylor's side. He turned around before the hearing began and whispered something brief to one of those people who appeared to be loved ones. Otherwise, he remained silent.

Emmaleigh's mom was in the courtroom, as well. She, too, was composed and did not show much emotion other than a deep breath at the end of the hearing. No family members wanted to make a comment at this time.

During the hearing, the judge considered different motions filed by the defense, mostly about whether or not certain evidence should be admissible.

Defense attorneys argued that phone records including text messages, social media posts and Internet searches should be thrown out. They said the prosecution "characterizes" and "makes assumptions" about the evidence that the defense attorneys feel will damage the jury. They argued that the state elaborates too much on the phone records (i.e. calling the Internet searches "graphic") and that it will confuse and taint the jury.

The prosecution argued that the internet searches couldn't be viewed any way other than graphic. One of the state's attorneys said Taylor's phone shows he looked up pornography before the alleged crime. The attorney argued that this speaks to the intent behind the alleged crime, as well as Taylor's state of mind. She said she must prove intent during the trial, making the evidence essential. Prosecutors also said the phone shows text messages Taylor sent after the alleged crime, implying he would be dead at some point in the future. "It goes to the heart of intent," prosecutors argued.

The judge said he would likely have a ruling on that motion by next week.

Attorneys also argued about several search warrants including those of the apartment, Taylor's clothing and his person. The defense said investigators lacked probable cause, while the prosecutors argued that probable cause was there. Both sides decided to wait until the state lab testing results came back before continuing the conversation about whether or not the results should be thrown out. The prosecutor said she was told those results will be in by the week of Sept. 11. The judge will also review the search warrants before making an opinion about the evidence that was seized.

Those results include DNA evidence, blood work and toxicology reports. The mother testified in 2016 that she and Taylor had smoked marijuana and drank alcohol that night, according to court records. However, a deputy testified that Taylor didn't appear to be overly intoxicated when he got to the scene.

Another topic during the hearing was the location of Taylor's current incarceration. The defense said the suspect is being held at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County. He said Jackson County inmates are typically held in the South Central Regional Jail in Charleston, calling it an inconvenience for the attorneys to have to drive to Southwestern to prep for trial. A prosecuting attorney said that she was told Taylor was relocated for his safety. She said she didn't know any more details beyond that, and that it was her understanding that there was no ill intent behind the relocation. The prosecutor argued that this is not the time to question jail safety protocol, but the defense attorney followed that by saying he didn't believe Southwestern had safety measures that South Central couldn't provide.

The judge gave the state two weeks to look into the jail location issue. He also agreed that the prosecution's findings should be sealed as to not release sensitive security information about the jails to the public.

Another pre-trial hearing was scheduled for Nov. 1. The trial is expected to begin in December.

Back in 2016, a family member of the mother said, "You literally would have thought he was a Prince Charming, she was so lit up inside. He wanted to do things with her and he hung out with the kids."

Investigators said they do not believe any of Emmaleigh's siblings were harmed.

UPDATE: 3/22/2017, 1:44 P.M.

Benjamin Taylor's trial is set to happen Tuesday, August 8, 2017, at 9 a.m.

It was continued in Jackson County Court Wednesday. The circuit clerk says this is so more evidence can be gathered.

UPDATE 11/1/2016 10:30 AM

A grand jury in Jackson County has indicted 32-year-old Benjamin Taylor of Cottageville in the death of 10-month-old Emmaleigh Barringer.

Taylor is charged with first-degree murder, felony murder, death of a child by child abuse, first-degree sexual assault and sexual abuse by a guardian. The felony-murder charge means the murder is alleged to have taken place during a sexual assault.

The baby died last month at a Charleston hospital, days after Taylor allegedly sexually assaulted her in the basement at a residence in Ripley that Taylor shared with the baby’s mother, Amanda Adkins.

Taylor was arraigned on Oct. 12, at which time a magistrate found probable cause to send the case to Jackson County Circuit Court.

He currently is at the South Central Regional Jail.

UPDATE 10/12/2016 12:50 PM

The Jackson County Grand Jury will now hear the case involving the sexual assault, and murder, of a 10-month-old baby.

Benjamin Taylor is charged with first-degree sexual assault and first-degree murder. He is accused of sexually assaulting Emmaleigh Barringer so badly that she ultimately died.

Taylor appeared in court Wednesday morning for his preliminary hearing. He was brought in wearing a bulletproof vest, with several members of law enforcement on hand for extra security.

The prosecution called three witnesses to the stand to testify.

Amanda Adkins, the mother of Emmaleigh, testified before the judge, saying she thought Taylor loved all her kids. She never had any concerns about him.

She says she went down to the basement and found Taylor kneeling over Emmaleigh, with his pants unbuttoned and no shirt on. She saw the baby was bloody and yelled at Taylor. She says she punched him in the face and then ran upstairs with the baby and called 911.

Adkins did admit that she, and Taylor, had smoked marijuana earlier in the night.

The sheriff's deputy says Taylor did not appear overly intoxicated when he arrived on scene.

The Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Allen Mock, also testified. He says multiple injuries were the cause of death for baby Emmaleigh, including a skull fracture.

The defense did not call any witnesses to the stand.

As a result of the testimonies, the judge found probable cause to bound the case over to the grand jury.


Funeral services for baby Emmaleigh Barringer are planned for 10 a.m. Monday at the McCully-Polyniak Funeral Home in Pasadena, Md.

Visitation will be from 3-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Sunday at the funeral home.

A vigil took place Monday night for a baby girl named Emmaleigh Barringer that lost her life to sexual violence.

Her mother's boyfriend at the time reportedly committed the crime.

Hundreds of people attended. Even people that had never met little Emmaleigh were so affected by her story they came to show support.

The Barringer family had pictures of her on display and onlookers paid respect by lighting candles.

During the ceremony, different pastors from around the area spoke. In the wake of a senseless tragedy like this, they tried to offer comfort.

One speaker said this terrible act has one silver lining. It's a way to bring up the taboo subject of child sexual abuse and stop it from happening to another child.

The Children's Listening Place will collect candles and lighters for Emmaleigh Barringer's vigil.

They will be accepting donations for candles and lighters from Friday, October 7th until Monday, October 12th at 4:30 p.m.

Call 304-917-4437 or comment on The Children's Listening Place Facebook page post.

You can also you email: or

UPDATE 10/7/2016

A candlelight vigil is being organized in Ripley as the community continues to mourn the killing of 10-month-old Emmaleigh Barringer.

The event is being organized by the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Jackson County, also known as CASA. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday on the grounds of the Jackson County courthouse located at 100 North Court St. in Ripley.

The baby girl died on Wednesday at Charleston Area Medical Center from injuries related to a sexual assault on Monday.

Among those scheduled to speak are pastor Mark Gerstell of the First Baptist Church of Ravenswood; the Rev. Matthew Ash, senior pastor at Parchment Valley Church in Ripley; Grace Stewart, director of program services for the West Virginia Child Advocacy Network; pastor Stephanie Castle at Ripley Church of the Nazarene; and Kathie King, a CASA director in Jackson County.

As suspect in the case, Benjamin Taylor, 32, of Cottageville, is in jail on a first-degree murder charge. He is awaiting a preliminary hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.

UPDATE 10/6/2016 12:30 PM

Benjamin Taylor's charges have now been raised to first degree murder.

In court Thursday morning, Taylor appeared for the magistrate via webcam from the South Central Regional Jail.

Magistrate William Reynolds read the very graphic criminal complaint to Taylor, informing him why he is being charged with first degree murder.

Some of those details included that the mother of the baby found Taylor standing over top of the baby girl, with no shirt on and his jeans unbuttoned and unzipped.

It was later found that Taylor had blood all over his jeans and on the inside of his waistband.

According to the complaint, there were signs of shaking baby syndrome and significant blows to the head found on the baby girl.

Jackson County Sheriff, Tony Boggs, says this is a hard case for he, and the whole department.

"This story has reached far and wide already and I think it's affected everybody that's heard it. Again, I don't know that there's words to describe it. Take care of your kids," says Boggs.

Taylor could face a life sentence if convicted of first degree murder.

There is no bond, as bonds do not exist for capital offenses.

Taylor's next appearance in court will be for his preliminary hearing which will happen in the next ten days.


The brutal sexual assault of a 9-month-old girl in Jackson County has ended tragically today with the child's death.

Jackson County Sheriff Tony Boggs says the girl died this afternoon at Charleston Area Medical Center from injuries suffered in Monday's assault.

Earlier, family members said the girl had been declared brain dead with "very little hope" of her waking up.

The suspect in the case, Benjamin Taylor, 32, of Cottageville, remains in jail charged with first-degree sexual assault, but Boggs says the charges against him will be updated soon.

A 9-month-old baby is in critical condition after deputies say she was sexually assaulted by a family friend.

Benjamin Taylor, 32, of Cottageville has been charged with first-degree sexual assault.

According to the criminal complaint, deputies were called Monday to a house on Meadowlark Lane in Ripley.

When they arrived they found the baby's mother holding the infant with a "significant" amount of blood on and around the child. The mother told deputies that she had found the baby naked in the basement of the apartment with the lights turned off.

Deputies then spoke with Taylor, who initially said he didn't know how the injuries happened.

After being read his Miranda rights, Taylor said he took the infant to the basement of the house to do laundry earlier that evening.

When deputies questioned Taylor on how the infant received her injuries again, Taylor said he "blacked out" and didn't know how they happened.

Deputies say large amounts of blood were found on blankets and clothes in the basement where Taylor and the infant were believed to be

Taylor would change his story multiple times and deputies noticed Taylor trying to rub something off of himself.

After going to the hospital, deputies got a search warrant for Taylor's clothing and a DNA sample.

While deputies were getting the sample they noticed blood on Taylor's body that they believed to be from the infant.

According to the criminal complaint, Taylor did nothing to save the infant's life from the injuries she sustained during the sexual assualt.

The baby has been taken to CAMC to receive treatment.

Taylor is being held at South Central Regional Jail on a $2 million dollar bond.