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Man set to stand trial in son's death

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — Jury selection is due to begin Monday in the trial of a Newnan man charged with murder in the January 2012 death of his toddler son.

Ryan Russell Edwards, 35, faces murder and other felonies in the death of Mikkah Brown, 1. Police said the baby died from injuries he suffered when Edwards tied a belt around his neck and swung him "like a rag doll."

Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson and Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Katie Powers will prosecute the case in Judge Albert Collier's courtroom. Edwards is being represented by public defender Kevin Schumaker.

Brown, 1, died after being taken off life support at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. Edwards told police he was baby-sitting while the baby's mother, Toni Brown, attended school and worked.

Arrest warrants filed in Clayton Magistrate Court allege the baby's brother, then 12, came downstairs between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. for a drink of water and saw Edwards swinging the baby. The older boy reportedly told police the child's feet were hitting the ceiling. He reportedly 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.

Police said 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.

Edwards is being held in the Clayton County Jail on $165,000 bond. Prosecutors asked for $1 million bond in June.

Toni Brown was distraught after the June bond hearing, collapsing in a heap in the second-floor hallway of the Clayton County Courthouse, seemingly fearful someone would bail Edwards out of jail.

Brown said she can't let go of a single item that was her baby's and her family is in grief counseling. She said 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 last year. "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?"