The mother of a 13-month-old toddler who died allegedly at the hands of his father fell to her knees in grief Friday morning after learning the accused killer was given a bond.
Toni Brown’s tearful wails echoed in the hallway on the second floor of the Clayton County Courthouse. Relatives surrounded Brown as she struggled to make sense of Chief Magistrate Daphne Walker’s ruling to set a $165,000 bond for defendant Ryan Russell Edwards.
“I don’t understand, I just don’t,” said Brown. “And anything is possible. He could get out. But he shouldn’t be able to get out, to function outside jail bars, he shouldn’t be able to function in society.”
Police said Edwards, 34, put a belt around Mikkah Brown’s neck and swung him around “like a rag doll,” causing injuries that led to his death. Edwards has been charged with murder, cruelty to children and aggravated battery.
Brown said her older son, Malakai Brown, 12, witnessed the alleged incident.
“He is so filled with anger,” said Brown of her son. “He wasn’t able to go to school for three weeks after this.”
The older boy reportedly said Edwards was swinging the toddler so high the child’s feet were hitting the ceiling. He told police he wanted to call his mother at work but Edwards had the phone.
When the baby began vomiting and acting drowsy into the next day, police said the couple took him to a satellite office of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. While in the waiting room, police said Edwards “continuously” got in the way of personnel trying to help the baby.
The baby was transported to the Atlanta hospital and put on life support. Doctors told police the baby suffered a skull fracture, subdural hemorrhage and bruises to his chest and ribs.
Edwards reportedly told police that he “wrestled and play-boxed” with the baby. He also said he wrapped the child in a blue blanket and slung him around the room.
Brown said knowing Edwards is entitled by law to a bond and dealing with the reality of him getting one are two different concepts.
“Only $165,000? And my 13-month-old son is gone? Not even ‘my’ son — our son,” she said. “It’s not enough for all the pain and suffering he’s caused me and my other children. In court, that look on his face was like he didn’t care.”
Clayton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Michael Thurston asked for $1 million bond. However, the defense noted that the case was not indicted within the 90 days after the arrest, as required for an incarcerated suspect and the cause of death hasn’t been signed off on by the medical examiner. The case can’t be indicted without an official cause of death.
More than five months later, Brown said she can’t let go of a single item that was her baby’s. Her family is in grief counseling. She lost one of her two jobs and dropped out of school. She is the sole supporter of her son and daughter. Mikkah was her and Edwards’ only child together. He has four other children.
“I’ve had to pick up the pieces of my life and go on,” said Brown. “And he killed a child. A child who just learned to walk. My son will never ride a bike or go to school or get married. How can anyone be so heartless?”