OGDEN -- Monday's trial of a young father charged in the death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter was bumped Wednesday to November while a key defense witness recovers from surgery.
Abbott, 32, is charged in the Sept. 9, 2011, death of Hailey Byrne at their home in Roy.
Police were called to the residence in the 1900 block of 4700 South that morning when the girl's mother called authorities to say that Hailey was unresponsive.
Emergency medical responders found the girl dead from apparent suffocation.
Last week 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones denied the second of two suppression motions in clearing the case for trial before the defense announced the complications for their medical expert, expected to rebut the cause of death in the case.
The new trial will run the week of Nov. 12, although officials agreed it could be moved up depending on the recovery of the defense witness. Defense attorney Bernie Allen told the judge Wednesday their medical expert had lost 30 pounds attendant to the surgery.
In February, Jones rejected a bid to have Abbott's incriminating statement to police thrown out. Abbott's statement was challenged by Randy Richards, Allen's law partner, who argued the statement was inadmissible because Abbott was given his Miranda warnings about his rights to an attorney in writing instead of verbally. The prosecution argued successfully that claim was not supported by case law.
Abbott, in his statement, wrote that even though Hailey was alive when he last saw her, "I feel like I contributed to her death. I feel guilty. I want to give my life so she can come back." Then in larger letters, "Why? Why?"
Last week, Jones ruled admissible the statement of the victim's 6-year-old sister. She told police that the night before Hailey died she saw Abbott spank Hailey for playing when she was supposed to be in bed, then hold her face to a pillow so her crying wouldn't wake a younger sibling.
The defense had argued a child's testimony is unreliable and at this point is likely tainted by the 19 months that have passed since the death.
But Deputy Weber County Attorney Ben Willoughby argued successfully that the defendant himself in his statement to Roy Police Sgt. Dan Hammon confirmed everything the girl said, point by point, even demonstrating what he did in a re-enactment with a doll.