Plea deal rejected: Man accused of pouring hot oil on sleeping woman, baby goes to trial

A man accused throwing hot oil on a woman and baby as they slept in a Hamilton home rejected a plea deal Wednesday meaning he will go to trial next month.

Michael Maloney, 42, of Sycamore Street in Hamilton, is charged with aggravated burglary and two counts of felonious assault for the incident that happened Dec. 21.

Maloney remains housed in the Butler County Jail in lieu of $500,000. He was originally scheduled to go to trial in March, but the case was continued by Common Pleas Judge Greg Stephens after the defense filed pretrial motions.

The trial is now set for June 28.

Maloney was expected to change his plea to guilty as charged when he was in court Wednesday morning. It was going to be in exchange for the repeat violent offender specification being removed from the charges.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said Maloney offered to plead guilty to all charges if the RVO specification was removed, the prosecution agreed. But Maloney changed his mind.

“It is my understanding at one point in time Mr. Maloney was willing to enter a guilty plea in exchange for the removal of the RVO status,” Stephens said. ”It is my understanding today your client has changed his mind about said offering, therefore we have a trial date of June 28.”

The judge made it clear there would be no further plea negotiations.

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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 additional years to a prison sentence.

Defense Attorney Ched Peck said his client wants to go to trial. He declined additional comment after the hearing.

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 child.

“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.

“She was in bed. The guy broke into the house. He had some hot oil and threw it on her while she was asleep and also burnt the child,” Sgt. Richard Burkhardt said.

An investigation pointed to Maloney as the suspect. He was taken into custody Dec. 29 in Kentucky, waived extradition and was booked into the Butler County Jail about 4:30 p.m. that day.

Maloney’s relationship to the victim and his motive has not been made known.

In 2000, Maloney pleaded guilty in Butler County Common Pleas Court to voluntary manslaughter for fatally 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.

Witt and her baby are continuing to recover from their injuries.

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