Jury seated in trial of man accused of pouring hot oil on sleeping woman, baby

Defense says the injuries are the result of an accident, court documents show.

A jury has been seated in the Butler County Common Pleas Court trial for a man accused of throwing hot oil on a woman and baby as they slept in a Hamilton home three days before Christmas.

Michael Maloney, 42, of Hamilton, is charged with aggravated burglary and two counts of felonious assault for the Dec. 21, 2021, incident.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Maloney offered to plead guilty as charged if the repeat violent offender specification was removed. The prosecution agreed and he was expected to change his plea during a May court hearing. But Maloney changed his mind.

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If convicted, Maloney will be designated a repeat violent offender because he was previously convicted of voluntary manslaughter. The RVO specification can add up to 10 years to a prison sentence.

Maloney pleaded guilty in 2000 in Butler County Common Pleas Court to voluntary manslaughter for beating a man to death with a baseball bat. Judge Keith Spaeth sentenced Maloney to the maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. In 2008, Spaeth denied Maloney’s request for early release from prison.

The injured woman, Jayla Witt, called dispatchers about 7:50 a.m. that December morning, screaming that someone had broken into her Grand Boulevard residence and burned her and the baby.

“Somebody ran in my house,” Witt told dispatchers. “I am burned. Me and my baby are burned.”

Hamilton police say the woman and her 16-month-old son were intentionally doused with hot oil.

But the defense say the injuries to the victims were accidental, according to court documents filed Friday by defense attorney Ched Peck.

“The defendant denies any purpose to cause serious physical harm to Jayla Witt. He denies that he committed an unlawful act and says that it was an accident,“ according to court documents

Witt and the baby are continuing to recover from their injuries. The trial is scheduled to last four days.

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