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Family tries to be Jayleah Bureau’s voice as father sentenced for her death

  • Jocarl Bureau glares at Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley as Hinckley presents the state’s evidence at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord on Friday. ELIZABETH FRANTZMonitor staff

  • Loreal Williams turns to look at Jocarl Bureau as she exits the courtroom for a recess during Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack County Superior Court in Concord on Friday. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his and Williams’s daughter. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Judge Richard McNamara listens as Loreal Williams reads her statement during Jocarl Bureau's plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Jocarl Bureau wipes away tears with his hands as Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley recommends a sentence of 18 to 40 years to Judge Richard McNamara during Bureau’s plea and sentencing. ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff

  • Jayleah Bureau Courtesy

  • Tears roll down his face and his voice cracks as Jocarl Bureau pleads guilty during his plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Supporters of the victim's family enter together and fill the courtroom to capacity before the start of Jocarl Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley walks back to his seat during Jocarl Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Loreal Williams walks back to her seat after reading a statement during Jocarl Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his and Williams's daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Jocarl Bureau hides his face as Loreal Williams reads her statement during Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his and Williams's daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Scenes from Jocarl Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his daughter and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • A supporter places a hand on the back of Laura Williams (left), grandmother of Jayleah Bureau, as Williams read her statement during Jocarl Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his 3-year-old daughter Jayleah and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

  • Lloyd Williams, great uncle of Jayleah Bureau, crumples his statement in hand after reading it aloud during Jocarl Bureau’s plea and sentencing hearing at Merrimack Superior Court in Concord on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. Bureau pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of his 3-year-old daughter Jayleah and faces 18 to 40 years in state prison. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ—Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 8/10/2018 7:13:38 PM

Loreal Williams is haunted by unanswered questions about the final hours of her 3-year-old daughter’s life.

She constantly fears the man responsible for Jayleah Bureau’s death will freely walk the streets again and hurt someone else.

“Was it that easy to throw our daughter’s life away?” Williams asked Jocarl Bureau, who was seated at the defense table with his head bowed.

“The truth is I will never get to know what happened,” she continued in court Friday afternoon. “Only you will get to see that vision in your eyes every day.”

Bureau, 24, will spend the next 18 to 40 years in state prison after pleading guilty in Merrimack County Superior Court to a charge of manslaughter. In exchange for his plea, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office dismissed a charge of second-degree murder, which accused Bureau of recklessly killing Jayleah on March 15, 2016, at the family’s residence in Concord.

When Williams put Jayleah to bed on the night of March 14, the girl had no visible injuries and appeared healthy, Senior Assistant Attorney General Peter Hinckley told the court. The next morning, the 3-year-old girl was rushed to the hospital.

Neighbors reported seeing Bureau running out of the Canton Circle home holding his daughter’s limp body, crying for help as emergency personnel arrived.

Bureau had told first responders his daughter had choked on her eggs and apple juice and did not respond to 20 minutes of chest compressions. But investigators say there was no evidence of food blocking the child’s airways.

An autopsy found Jayleah died from massive internal bleeding after a vein in her stomach had severed.

Hinckley said Bureau played video games instead of calling 911 for his daughter. Ultimately, he reached Williams, who made the 911 call, but by then nearly 30 minutes had passed since the assault. Jayleah was later pronounced dead at Concord Hospital.

In the months preceding Jayleah’s death, Bureau was dealing with a number of stressors in his life, Hinckley said. A friend had just died, his relationship with Williams was in turmoil, and he was dissatisfied with being a stay-at-home father while Williams worked full-time.

“The defendant watched Jayleah at the apartment in Concord, and the defendant at times expressed disinterest in doing what he called ‘daddy daycare’ for his daughter,” Hinckley told the court. “Also, on multiple occasions, the defendant expressed frustration … over having to watch Jayleah and over his inability to pursue other activities that he wanted to pursue but couldn’t.”

Bureau had tears in his eyes throughout the more-than-hour-long hearing, and at one point spoke back to Hinckley, who was detailing the evidence in the case. Judge Richard McNamara reprimanded Bureau for speaking out of turn, although Bureau’s remarks were inaudible to many of the family members and friends who overflowed the courtroom.

Bureau chose not to address the court later in the hearing.

“What kind of parent sits there and watches their child in so much pain and doesn’t call for help?” Jayleah’s grandmother, Laura Williams, asked during her victim impact statement.

“To me, Jocarl, you have no conscience,” she continued.

Laura Williams said when her daughter, Loreal, told her about Jayleah’s death she panicked and could not breathe. She said she felt her heart jump out of her chest and then, just like that, a piece of her was gone.

Both Loreal and Laura Williams said Jayleah was full of spunk and sass and well beyond her years.

“She was a diva, for sure, always dancing and singing with attitude,” her mom said. “I was always proud to show her off and bring her everywhere with me.”

When Loreal moved back to Concord in late 2015, she returned to her childhood neighborhood, hoping to see Jayleah grow up there and have similar opportunities. Now, she said, she is left only with the memories of her fun-loving girl.

Bureau had just re-entered Jayleah’s life after years of not knowing his daughter. But instead of showing her love and protection, he caused her “immeasurable pain,” Jayleah’s great uncle Lloyd Williams said.

“I can’t call him her father because a real father would never hurt his child,” Lloyd Williams said, while calling Bureau a “monster” and a “psychopath.”

The support in the courtroom Friday for Jayleah was overwhelming. Of the dozens of people who filled the wooden benches, many wore handmade T-shirts bearing the toddler’s picture and name.

“Jayleah could not fight back that day,” Laura Williams said through tears. “We are her voice now, and we are fighting for her. We will not allow her name to be forgotten.”

(Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 369-3319, adandrea@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @_ADandrea.)



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