Mother pleads guilty in fatal child abuse case

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FESTUS, Mo. – A Festus mother pleaded guilty Thursday to what police said was one of the worst cases of child abuse they’ve ever seen.

Layla Fast Evans died two years ago after police said she was beaten to death by her mother. The child was 19 months-old.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for 35 years and this is the worst case of child abuse I’ve ever seen,” said Festus Police Chief Tim Lewis. “The last few minutes of her life were unbelievably horrible for her.”

Taylor Fast, 23, pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child and neglect of a child resulting in death. She’ll be sentenced in October.

Some family members want to make Taylor Fast never gets out of prison. Life imprisonment is a possibility.

“For her never to see the streets again,” said David Dunn, Layla Evans’ grandfather. “If I had my way, she wouldn’t have any contact with anyone. She’d sit in a cell and never talk to anybody.”

The case has been hard on the family, especially Layla’s grandmother.

“It’s been horrific on her. She can’t sleep at night, she gets migraines, she’s on anti-depressant pills; it’s horrible,” Dunn said.

It’s also been emotionally difficult for the Festus Police Department that investigated Layla’s death.

“It hit my officers hard. We had some officers that had counseling. We had some prayer services afterwards,” Chief Lewis said.

The grandfather said the family is putting together a victim’s impact statement to be read by Layla’s grandmother at the sentencing.

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