Mother charged in drowning death of child

A young mother told police that she drowned her 6-year-old daughter in the bathtub "to save her from the world." The girl died on Tuesday in St. Paul.

The Ramsey County Attorney's Office charged Kayla Marie Jones, 25, with second-degree murder Wednesday in the death of Azaria Nicole Jones.

The St. Paul Police Department received a report at 8 a.m. Tuesday that a young girl had drowned in a bathtub in a residence on the 1300 block of East Maynard Drive and wasn't breathing, according to the criminal complaint. Azaria Nicole Jones was later pronounced dead at Children's St. Paul Pediatric Hospital.

Kayla Marie Jones was standing outside with wet clothes when officers arrived. The investigating officer said Jones put her hands in the air as if surrendering.

Jones told police that she woke up crying on Tuesday and hadn't slept for days, according to the complaint. Jones said she had been molested as a child, and that she was afraid that her daughter was a victim of molestation as well. She said she was watching the news, when she heard: "'Save the child, don't send [her] to the monster.'"

The complaint said that Jones told officers that she didn't remember exactly what happened afterwards, but admitted that she held her fully-clothed daughter face down in the bathtub for one to two minutes while the girl's legs and arms thrashed. She let go when the girl stopped moving.

A provisional autopsy from the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office found that the girl had scratch marks on her neck and possible bruising to her thighs, as well as other injuries associated with fresh water drownings.

When an officer asked whether Jones felt bad, she responded that she still couldn't believe that she'd done that to her own daughter.

"I just can't even feel anything right now," she said, according to the complaint.

When police arrived, Jones' boyfriend was at the scene crying and screaming. Police said he was saying, "Things aren't that bad. How could she do this to her daughter?"

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi said in a statement that the act was both chilling and tragic.

"This is one of the things where we have to deal with the aftermath of all this, and part of our job will be to ensure justice as part of the court process," Choi said. "But, overall, especially on Christmas Eve, what a sad and heartbreaking case."

Ramsey County District Court Judge Shawn Bartsh Wednesday afternoon ordered Jones undergo a mental health evaluation and set her bail at $2 million. Jones' next court date is January 7.

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