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Toddler murder trial won't include allegations of past abuse

Mark Gokavi • Mar 7, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Jesse York’s murder trial for allegedly killing 22-month-old Rylee Sellars won’t include another women’s testimony that York also may have injured her young daughter, a judge ruled.

Jury selection for York’s trial started this morning in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court. He was indicted on counts of murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangering and felonious assault for Nov. 13, 2013 injuries to the toddler.

Rylee died two days later of blunt force trauma to her head at Dayton Children’s Hospital, two months before her second birthday. York was indicted in January 2014.

Opening arguments are expected to begin Tuesday afternoon for the trial, which is scheduled to take more than a week.

Court documents indicate York allegedly caused injuries to another woman’s 13-month-old between July and October 2012. But Judge Mary Katherine Huffman sustained the defense’s motion to not allow evidence “related to other alleged crimes, wrongs or acts” in the prosecution’s case in chief.

At an oral hearing in October 2016, the woman testified that there were five separate incidents where she believed York caused physical injuries to her daughter. The alleged injuries — no evidence of criminal prosecution exists in Montgomery County court records — included a black eye, a swollen bump on the girl’s head, scratches on blood on her back and missing clumps of hair.

During the final incident, court documents show the woman saw York bend over her daughter’s crib and jerk the girl’s head up, causing the child to gasp and cry and leaving her with a swollen lip and had blood on her face and lip. Upon confronting York, court documents said, York yelled, “you’re crazy, I would never do anything to her” and said the blood around the girl’s mouth was ketchup.

Prosecutors argued some of the 13-month-old girl’s injuries were similar to that of Rylee’s, but Huffman cited the testimony doesn’t pass the legal standard for admittance. Huffman said York claims Rylee’s injuries came from hitting her head several days earlier and not from a different alleged perpetrator.

Huffman ruled the woman’s testimony won’t be allowed in the state’s case in chief, but may be admissible depending on any evidence offered by the defendant.

In the same October hearing, a detective testified about the potential testimony from Dustin Rybak, who was in the Montgomery County Jail for some of the same time period as York. Rybak died of an apparent drug overdose while in jail, so Huffman didn’t address any arguments associated with that potential testimony.

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©2017 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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