Montco D.A. now calling baby’s death ‘murder’

Edward J. Doyle of Hatboro was charged in the death.
Edward J. Doyle of Hatboro was charged in the death.
Posted: February 27, 2013

Makayla Doyle was only 2 months old, so it wasn't surprising that she cried early Sunday. Not normal were the skull fractures and other injuries that an autopsy showed led to her death that day.

On Tuesday, the infant's father, Edward James Doyle, was charged with third-degree murder and unsworn falsification to authorities. The District Attorney's Office and Upper Moreland police had already charged Doyle, 28, of Hatboro, on Monday with endangering the welfare of children in connection with Makayla's death.

"The horrific death of a 2-month-old baby was caused by multiple traumatic injuries," District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman said Tuesday.

The charges were filed against Doyle after an autopsy by Isidore Mihalakis of the county Coroner's Office determined that her injuries were inconsistent with Doyle's explanation that he accidentally fell on the baby.

An autopsy found so many skull fractures, Ferman said, 'we haven't been able to count them all yet." Makayla's ribs also were fractured, and there were injuries to her nose that suggested her airways had been pinched shut, she said.

Events leading up to the incident began Saturday evening about 11:45, when Doyle drank six pints of beer to celebrate a friend's birthday at the American Legion post in Willow Grove, according to court documents.

He initially told authorities that he returned home about 3 a.m. and fell asleep on the living room sofa, with Makayla nearby in a baby swing. When he woke up, she was "white as a ghost" and "limp," he said, so he called 911.

Doyle gave a different account when police questioned him further. He said that after leaving the Legion post, he and his wife, Nicole Lavelle, 30, spent time at the apartment of a neighbor. There they fought over their taxes, he said, before he returned home alone to find Makayla sitting in the baby swing, crying. He picked her up and was walking toward the kitchen when he tripped and fell on her, he said. When he checked his daughter, she was breathing, he said, so he put her back in the swing. He said he called 911 about 7:15 a.m. when Makayla didn't respond to him.

Their other daughter, 15-month-old Mackenzie, was also at the apartment.

According to defense attorney Robert P. Hoopes, Doyle never meant to hurt Makayla.

"It's a very unfortunate event," Hoopes said. "It's an accident, and I think at the outcome of the trial, everyone will know that."

Ferman contended that the death was the result of a drunk man who was angry from an argument and was left alone to care for his two young children. No charges have been filed against the child's mother. The investigation is continuing, Ferman said.

Doyle has been arrested before, including on a domestic violence charge in Bucks County.

District Judge Harry J. Nesbitt denied bail Tuesday morning at Doyle's arraignment. Doyle was returned to the Montgomery County Correctional Facility.


Contact Carolyn Davis at 610-313-8109, cdavis@phillynews.com, or @carolyntweets on Twitter.

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