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November 03, 2017

Mixed verdict in case of hit-and-run driver who killed 8-year-old West Philly girl

Paul Woodlyn faces Jan. 19 sentencing in death of Jayanna Powell

Courts Hit-And-Runs
Jayanna Powell Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

Ayeshia Poole and James Powell hold a sign with a photo of their daughter Jayanna, who was killed in a hit-and-run in West Philadelphia on November 18, 2016.

A driver who admittedly fled the scene after fatally striking an 8-year-old girl last November was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter but not guilty of homicide by vehicle on Friday.

Paul Woodlyn, 25, will face sentencing on January 19 after a jury offered that mixed verdict following three days of testimony at the Criminal Justice Center.

Before testimony started on Tuesday, Woodlyn pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident, for which he faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and $25,000 fine.

Ayeshia Poole, the mother of victim Jayanna Powell, told PhillyVoice after the verdict that the prosecutor told her Woodlyn could face anywhere from 8 to 16 years in prison after convictions for involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

The latter charge stemmed from the fact that Poole’s son Hassan, who was holding Jayanna’s hand when she was struck at 63rd Street and Lansdowne Avenue on their walk home from school, was hit as well.

Poole was not happy with the verdict.

“That’s nothing,” she said of the potential prison time. “He’ll still get to come home and see his child while my baby’s still in the ground. You have people who get more time for selling drugs.

“I almost passed out when they said not guilty," she continued. "I wanted to yell out so badly. At sentencing, that’s when our voices will be heard after sitting there quietly throughout the trial."

In opening arguments, Woodlyn’s attorney Benjamin Cooper maintained the children were crossing the street against a red light and his client didn’t have time to stop once he saw them.

Poole said Woodlyn testified to the same point during the trial and “said he wasn’t the cause of Jayanna’s death” and that he was "a good guy who loves children."

Aside from gruesome details from the autopsy report, and her 13-year-old son Hassan's testimony about what happened that day, Poole also had to hear “911 calls when you hear my children screaming ‘Jay Jay!’ and crying.”