Mallett found guilty on all charges in death of young son

Published 6:01 pm Thursday, June 13, 2024

Brooke Mallett, the mother charged with manslaughter and child neglect in the 2023 death of her 3-year-old son, was found guilty on all charges Thursday in Warren County Circuit Court.

Mallett’s charges stem from an April incident last year when both 3-year-old Kaiden Mallett and a five-year-old sibling went missing from their home and, according to law enforcement at the time, were gone for hours without the mother or her boyfriend noticing. Kaiden Mallett was later found dead in a pond near Memory Lane.

Mallett and then-boyfriend John Duke Walker were initially charged with murder before a Grand Jury reduced the charges to manslaughter.

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On Tuesday, the prosecution introduced testimony from Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey, who confirmed he pronounced the child dead at 12:29 p.m. on April 21, 2023.  

Warren County sheriff’s deputies testified that, upon arriving at the home where Mallett and the children were staying, they found the house to be in extremely poor condition, with clothing, toys and dirty dishes strewn about. There was no power or water to the home and drug paraphernalia and a loaded gun were also found in the house, according to testimony. Because there was an outstanding warrant for Mallett’s arrest, she was taken into custody. Walker was also arrested on suspicion of child neglect.

Extensive testimony was also given Tuesday by Shirlene Hill of Child Protective Services. She was called to the home of Lynne Cox, who testified Monday the older child showed up at her home on the day in question dirty, barefoot and covered in bug bites. 

Hill said she received authority to take the older child to Merit Health River Region emergency room in Vicksburg. A subsequent urine sample from the child tested positive for methamphetamines and amphetamines, testimony revealed. Hill also testified regarding two previous CPS reports involving Mallett in Copiah County. In one of those reports, dated March 2023, Kaiden Mallett tested positive for methamphetamines. Based on this finding, the mother was ordered to submit to a drug test immediately in Copiah County. She did not appear, resulting in a warrant being issued for her arrest.  

Doctors from both River Region and University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson testified Tuesday to the older child’s state of health, concurring with Hill’s assessment of the child’s physical appearance. Their testimony outlined the treatment that was provided, their concerns of child neglect and the positive drug screen.  

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace testified that he responded to the initial call on Old Highway 27 when the older child was found. Pace also led the search for the younger child, eventually finding him floating in a pond near Memory Lane. Pace retrieved the child from the water and began CPR, continuing until paramedics arrived and declared the child deceased, he said in testimony.

On Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from other members of the Warren County Sheriff’s Office involved in locating the children. WCSO Lt. Stacy Rollison’s emotional testimony about finding the child’s body elicited a visible response from jurors.

Rollison also testified to the condition of the home and yard of the house where Mallett and her children were residing. Although the two children had a “relatively clean” bedroom, the rest of the house was in a poor state, with no running water or electricity, and food stored in coolers, Rollison said. She further testified to the physical condition of the older child, describing the sibling as dirty and covered in bug bites and missing many of his teeth. Upon investigation of the home where the children were residing, she testified she found “meth pipes” on the mattress where Mallett and Walker were reported to have slept and said a loaded gun was confiscated during the initial search. Mallett admitted to Rollison she had consumed methamphetamines two days prior to the children going missing, according to testimony.

Evidence shown to the jury Wednesday included the homemade drug paraphernalia recovered from the home, as well as numerous photographs documenting the recovery of Kaiden Mallett’s body and the general condition of the home upon entry.

Rollison stated that, although she documented drug paraphernalia during her initial search of the home through photographs, the primary concern at the time was finding the missing child. When deputies returned the next day with a search warrant, she said, the house and yard had been cleaned up, and the meth pipes and other drug paraphernalia she had observed the previous day were located in trash that had been collected and placed in front of the house. These items were retrieved from the trash bags and entered into evidence, Rollison said.

The pathologist who conducted the autopsy testified that the cause of death of Kaiden Mallett was drowning, and the manner, accidental.

A pathologist from University of Mississippi Medical Center testified the older child tested positive for methamphetamine as well as amphetamine. He explained that, in a blood test, methamphetamines will metabolize after a time into amphetamines.

Hair samples from Mallett and Walker were collected and sent for forensic analysis. The lab director of the facility at Omega Laboratories in Ohio testified both samples of hair received tested positive for methamphetamines as well as amphetamines. He also testified to the fact that one use of methamphetamines will not show up in a hair sample, and the samples they tested revealed repeated methamphetamine use.

In testimony from a separate forensic pathologist who tested hair samples from Kaiden Mallett, samples were described as being positive for methamphetamines, as well as amphetamines. She added that she could not conclusively determine whether the methamphetamines were deposited on the hair through second-hand smoke or powder deposit versus actual ingestion of the substance.

The defense presented its case Thursday before the jury unanimously returned its guilty verdict. Presiding Judge M. James Chaney scheduled sentencing for Thursday, June 27, at 2 p.m. According to Warren County District Attorney Ricky Smith, Mallett faces up to 20 years for manslaughter and up to five years for each of the two charges of child neglect on which she was convicted.