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Three-month-old honored in memorial vigil

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Dozens of family members and friends of a Stockbridge family gathered Monday to offer support and condolences in the death of a 3-month-old baby.

A candlelight vigil was held at 468 Brunswick Circle, in memory of Aliyah Caesar. Caesar died at her home Thursday, allegedly as a result of injuries sustained due to what is commonly called Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The infant's father, 28-year-old Ron Courtney Caesar, is charged with murder and cruelty to children in the case. He is currently being held without bond in the Henry County Jail.

Aliyah's mother, 38-year-old Valerie Kelley, said on the night of the incident, she placed Aliyah's on her father's lap and went to take a shower. When she returned, she saw Aliyah having trouble breathing, and called 911.

Henry County Police Capt. Jason Bolton said, when emergency personnel were called to the scene, the baby was found not breathing and "unresponsive." Aliyah was later taken to Henry Medical Center, but reportedly had no brain function and had suffered collapsed lungs and kidney failure.

Aliyah's mother told doctors at the hospital to end her daughter's pain by removing a breathing tube from her body. During the vigil, the mother recounted the sadness she felt in her daughter's final moments.

"After she died, I sat there and held her in my arms for two hours until the medical examiner came and took her," said Kelley. "I did not see any of this coming."

Monday, Kelley said authorities told her Aliyah likely sustained the majority of her injuries earlier on the day in question, when the baby and her 15-month-old sibling were allegedly alone in the house with Caesar.

Nineteen-year-old Arielle Kelley, the victim's older sister, was visibly emotional throughout the memorial service. She described the days since Aliyah's death as being difficult for her and her family.

"It's just hard," said Arielle. "I'm glad she's not suffering anymore."

A funeral for Aliyah, which had not been scheduled as of Monday, will reportedly be held in New York.

- Staff writer Johnny Jackson contributed to this article.