A new trial date has been set for Tina Dayton, the 23-year-old Ohio mother who was charged in April with murder and child endangerment in the October 2019 death of her two-year-old son, Clifford Alan “Jace” Stark III.
Jace died at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus on October 8, 2019, after a 911 call on October 7 summoned first responders to Tina’s apartment on Refugee Road, where she told them her two-year-old had fallen off the bed. Based on his condition, however — blue, barely breathing, crawling with lice, covered with bruises, his arm broken, and suffering from internal bleeding — it was immediately clear that Jace was not only neglected, but abused.
Jace’s autopsy revealed the little boy suffered from extensive injuries, including bruises on his head, a cut on his lip, a severely broken arm, and a lacerated liver. In addition to a bad case of lice, he was missing clumps of hair. His death was ruled a homicide caused by blunt force trauma.
While the investigation was underway, Tina, along with her children’s father, Clifford “CJ” Stark II, who had been living in the apartment against court orders, “relocated” to Florida. The two had a history of domestic violence and involvement with Franklin County Children Services (FCCS), including having their children removed from their home. In fact, Jace had only been returned to the custody of his mother in May of 2019, just five months before he died.
A warrant was issued for Tina Dayton in March, along with a wanted poster stating that she was likely in the company of CJ Stark. She was ultimately taken into custody in Duval County, Florida by the Florida Caribbean Regional Fugitive Task Force, a division of the US Marshal Service, on a murder warrant and extradited back to Franklin County, Ohio.
Tina, who pleaded not guilty in April, has been in the custody of the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office since her arrest, unable to satisfy a surety bond of $2,000,000 or cash bail of $20,000. Her bond remains unchanged after a request to amend it in July was denied by Judge David Young.
Tina’s trial date has been set and rescheduled several times. After she was captured and arrested on April 10, 2020, her trial was set to begin on June 11, but for various reasons, it was pushed back to June 18, August 12, September 24, and, most recently, November 18. As of last week, however, the trial was set to begin at 9:00 AM on Friday, December 18, 2020.
Time will tell when Tina will finally face the music, but I’m confident that we will see justice for Jace before long.
Click here for my ongoing coverage of Jace’s story.
Sources: Franklin County (Ohio) Clerk of Courts website, VINElink