Trial begins for man accused of pouring hot oil on sleeping woman, baby

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Jun. 27—The trial for a man accused of throwing hot oil on a woman and baby as they slept in a Hamilton home is scheduled to begin Tuesday in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

Michael Maloney, 42, of 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 until Tuesday after the defense filed additional pretrial motions.

Maloney was expected to change his plea to guilty as charged during a May court hearing 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.

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.

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.

The jury trial is scheduled to last four days.

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.

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.

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

"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

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

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