Stepfather found guilty of Capital Murder in Tragic case of Toddler’s Deadly Abuse in Biloxi

Stepfather found guilty of Capital Murder in Tragic case of Toddler's Deadly Abuse in Biloxi

A Harrison County jury convicted Joseph David Heard of capital murder for beating and suffocating his 2-year-old stepson in 45 minutes Thursday.

Later, Judge Larry Bourgeois asked the jury to confirm the verdict. The jury will decide Friday whether to sentence Heard, 41, to life without parole or death for killing 2-year-old Hayden Lee Bataille on December 27, 2021.

Hailey Lynn Bataille Heard, 24, is serving life for murdering her son.

His mother reported Joseph David Heard repeatedly struck the toddler in the gut and head the morning of his death, and when he yelled out in pain, he beat harder.

That morning, two days after Christmas 2021, Joseph David Heard was unhappy because the curly-blond youngster had soiled his diapers overnight.

Heard tortured the boy after he waited too long to retrieve a juice box from the fridge during bath time.

Hayden’s screaming stopped when his mother said she entered their one-bedroom apartment’s living room, where his stepfather was still striking him. Her hand covered her child’s mouth and nose to halt the weeping and hitting, she testified.

Hayden went blue and unconscious and died from suffocation.

Heard denied child abuse during his defense testimony Thursday. He said he entered the living room, discovered the boy wasn’t breathing, and performed CPR to save him.

Even though he never saw Hayden’s first bruise on the day of his murder, Heard denied any involvement in the crime or maltreatment.

But in Biloxi police body camera footage at the couple’s house, Heard recognizes the bruises and says Hayden likes to play rough.

He said he had observed bruising on the youngster before, but his wife said the toddler fell from a bed or couch.

As Heard denied, prosecutors pointed out that a phone forensic showed he browsed online for bruise-removal remedies. In hopes of finding a solution, Heard emailed his wife that banana peels could help them go away faster.

An autopsy found bruising and fractured bones on the toddler’s face, head, tummy, back, and legs.

Joseph David Heard’s attorney, Donald Rafferty, claims Hailey Heard suffocated the toddler by covering his mouth.

In opening statements, Joffe told the jury that Hailey Heard had been the victim of recurrent domestic violence by Heard and that her son’s stepfather had tortured and abused him during their one-year relationship.

Officials initially suspected drowning when a 911 call arrived in that morning regarding an unresponsive youngster.

On St. Mary Boulevard, Biloxi police, firefighters, and American Medical Response paramedics found the toddler fully clothed and laying on the living floor. Police in Biloxi stated the child was dry.

Mark Dillard, an AMR paramedic, said Hayden wasn’t moving and twice gasped for air before stopping. Dillard noted the toddler’s considerable injuries but kept trying to revive it. The firefighter took Hayden to the ambulance, and AMR rushed him to Merit Health in Biloxi.

The emergency department doctor, Dr. Leanne Lee, said she tried more life-saving procedures on Hayden before declaring him dead at 7 a.m. on Dec. 27, 2021.

Police in Biloxi read pages of text exchanges between Heard and his wife at trial. He often rants about Hayden’s wrongdoing and how he’ll punish him.

On some occasions, Hailey Heard said, Joseph David Heard punished the child by making him stand up and move his arms up and down repeatedly for hours at a time.

Joseph David Heard sometimes made Hayden remain on his potty chair for hours after he soiled his diaper, she alleged.

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