Jacksonville mom who killed baby while playing
FarmVille gets 50 years
David Hunt -
The Florida Times-Union
February 2, 2011
One day before she murdered her infant son with her
bare hands in her Jacksonville home, Alexandra Tobias took a
personality test on the Internet that cast a grim outlook in a
The quiz results, posted to her Facebook page,
labeled her as bipolar with a passage that read: "Way to go, you crazy
person. You are too much for any one person to handle, including
The next morning, 3-month-old Dylan Lee Edmondson
was dying of head injuries as investigators, doctors, Duval County
jail inmates and even family began spotting a pattern of lies to cover
up an ugly truth.
Tobias, 22, a Wolfson High School graduate who
wanted to go to college and had a generally good reputation as a
parent, had shaken the baby to death while playing interactive games
on her Facebook page.
Circuit Judge Adrian G. Soud sentenced Tobias to 50
years in prison after hearing several hours of testimony Tuesday.
Tobias cried at points, but was led to a fingerprinting station with a
blank look on her face after Soud gave a scathing lecture from the
"He who is the most defenseless among us was
murdered by his own mommy. And why? Because he was crying during a
game of FishVille or FarmVille or whatever was going on during
Facebooking time that day," the judge said.
The sentence was the highest end of a plea bargain
negotiated in October as Tobias pleaded guilty to second-degree murder
in Dylan's death.
Her plea went viral as popular websites like Gawker
and The Daily Beast picked up the story and CNN's "Nancy Grace" show
picked apart the case for nearly an hour.
To the baby's father, E.J. Edmondson, that was one
of the most disheartening parts of the ordeal.
"That is insulting. It wasn't about Facebook. It
was about my son," he said outside the courtroom.
More disheartening, Edmondson said he did not know
until he listened to forensic testimony Tuesday that his son was in
pain for the final hours of his life.
Tobias told the judge she was suffering from
postpartum depression, but wants to go back to the good person she was
before the killing.
"I hate myself for what I did, but not for who I
am," she said.
Tobias' friends and family described her as a
fun-loving, albeit somewhat mischievous, child who grew into a
Life dealt her some tough knocks. She'd found her
mother dead in 2008. She told a psychologist she'd been raped at a
Her plans to go to college were set back when she
got pregnant. She and Edmondson were in an on-again, off-again
relationship that became so intense both of them were arrested for
domestic violence several weeks before the baby's death.
Still, nobody close to Tobias could believe she
would take her frustrations out on the baby.
Before Tuesday's hearing, the Times-Union obtained
case depositions and letters in Tobias' handwriting that show how the
young mother tried to socialize herself in jail as if she'd be just a
temporary occupant. There was a point when she thought she'd beat the
"She laughs and she colors. I mean, she's got her
coloring pencils and they sit around and they just - you know, it's
like they're in a home for girls, you know. It's fun time, and it's
not," said Lois Hay, a fellow inmate who was deposed in the case by
Assistant State Attorney Rich Mantei last March.
Hay said at one point Tobias told inmates she shook
the baby and smashed his head off her computer monitor. But she also
would change the story to blame the abuse on her boyfriend, his mother
and her dog.
She later told a psychologist she blacked out to
try to cover up her confession to police, but she was snared as
prosecutors were given a recorded phone call she made from the jail
calling it a lie.
"I had a son named Dylan Lee but he passed away on
January 20, 2010!" reads a letter Tobias wrote to a male inmate she
was trying to court romantically. Prosecutors intercepted it. "They
are trying to charge me with my son's death and child abuse. Now I
don't expect you to understand but I can't really talk about it but I
can tell you I'm in here for the wrong reasons."
She wasn't the only one in disbelief.
"She was a young mother. She was under a lot of
stress, but I don't see her doing anything malicious. She knows
better," Tobias' sister, Elizabeth, told Mantei in a deposition last
Elizabeth Tobias showed Soud pictures of Tobias and
pleaded for mercy during Tuesday's hearing.
Prosecutors said Tobias called the baby's father
before she called 911 to report her son had stopped breathing. She's
hysterical in the recording as she tries to collect herself to follow
the dispatcher's instructions on mouth-to-mouth and chest compressions
as the rescue squad is en route.
Defense lawyer Jan Abel asked Soud to review the
911 recording before he sentenced Tobias. He did, but Tobias' crying
during the call did not change the judge's mind.
"It was to you he [Dylan] would turn to for food.
It was you he'd turn to for comfort, for love, for help when he was
sick," Soud told Tobias. "When he turned to you and cried, you
A month before she killed her son, detectives said
Tobias joined a Facebook advocacy group against baby-shaking.
Prosecutors zeroed in on the Facebook page when
they realized it was the likely background of the baby's death. Screen
captures that have become part of the case file show Tobias used the
social networking site often.
She labeled herself a Christian and a Republican
and gave no specific reasons for being a fan of things like
television's "One Tree Hill" and Hollywood starlet Megan Fox.
Tobias kept a profile for Dylan as well. New Year's
Day postings showed he was 12 pounds and 22 inches tall.
Psychologist Stephen Bloomfield testified Tuesday
that Tobias took Xanax, without a prescription, the morning of the
baby's death. He explained that the anti-anxiety drug can exaggerate
downward mood swings for depressives.
Bloomfield said much of Tobias' depression is
rooted in her upbringing under a mother who was diagnosed as bipolar
and who grappled with drug problems.
"She doesn't seem sad and she doesn't seem happy,"
Jacksonville mom shakes baby for interrupting
FarmVille, pleads guilty to murder
David Hunt -
The Florida Times-Union
October 28, 2011
A Jacksonville mother charged with shaking her baby
to death has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Alexandra V. Tobias, 22, was arrested after the
January death of 3-month-old Dylan Lee Edmondson. She told
investigators she became angry because the baby was crying while she
was playing a computer game called FarmVille on the Facebook
Tobias entered her plea Wednesday before Circuit
Judge Adrian G. Soud. A second-degree murder charge is punishable by
up to life in prison.
Prosecutor Richard Mantei said Tobias' sentence
could be less because of state guidelines that call for 25 to 50
years. Soud offered no promises on what he'll order during a
sentencing hearing scheduled for December.
Outside the courtroom, Mantei said Tobias' plea
will help avoid the family reliving the tragedy during a jury trial.
Tobias told investigators that she shook the baby,
smoked a cigarette to compose herself and then shook him again. She
said the baby may have hit his head during the shaking.
Mother kills her infant son after his crying
interrupted her while she was on Facebook
October 28, 2010
A Florida mother charged with shaking her baby to
death has pleaded guilty to second degree murder.
Alexandra V. Tobias, 22, was arrested in January
for killing her 3-month-old baby Dylan Lee Edmondson.
Tobias told investigators that she became enraged
because she was playing a computer game called Farmville on Facebook
and the baby wouldn't stop crying.
The Jacksonville resident entered her plea on
Wednesday and is facing life in prison.
However, Prosecutor Richard Mantei said that
Tobias' sentence could be reduced because of state guidelines that
call for 25 to 50 years.
Presiding circuit Judge Adrian G. Soud gave no
indication as to what sentence he'll order during a sentencing hearing
scheduled for December.
Mr Mantei said outside the courtroom that Tobias'
plea means she will not have a jury trial and the family won't have to
relive the tragedy.
Tobias told authorities that after becoming annoyed
by her baby crying, she shook the tot.
She said she then smoked a cigarette to compose
herself but then picked him up and shook him again. Tobias said that
the baby may have hit his head during the shaking.
Games like Farmville on the social networking site
can be very addictive with players spending hours on it.
FarmVille is an application on Facebook owned by
the company Zynga who after just 3 years in operation is now worth
The game is a real-time farm simulation that allows
players to manage a virtual farm by plowing land, planting, growing
and harvesting virtual crops.
The game is Facebook's most popular application
with over 62 million active users and over 24.6 million Facebook
It hasn't been without controversy however as the
company has been accused of scamming users through misleading offers,
such as filling in bogus surveys or IQ tests which in fact subscribed
them to unwanted services which appeared on their phone bill or sent
them an ad through email.
Friend can't believe mom charged in baby's death
Jim Schoettler -
The Florida Times-Union
January 22, 2010
A family friend of Alexandra Tobias said the
Jacksonville mother was so protective of her infant son, she wouldn't
even let him hold the boy.
If 3-month-old Dylan Lee Edmondson developed a
cough or other illness, Tobias wouldn't hesitate to take him to the
doctor, said the friend, who identified himself as Jason Smith, 32.
Whenever she took Dylan driving, Tobias made sure he was comfortable
So when he learned Thursday that Tobias, 21, had
been charged with murder in the death of her only child, Smith said he
couldn't believe the news.
Also, Tobias told police she shook the baby three
times, including once when he began crying as she played a computer
game, an arrest report said.
"That girl was so protective over that baby. There
should be more investigation done. I just don't know if she just
snapped or what," Smith told the Times-Union in a phone call to the
family's home. He said the family was not available.
Police detailed the charge against Tobias along
with arrests of two men in other murders - Wednesday's fatal stabbing
of a Baldwin woman and the Dec. 30 fatal shooting of a man in
In Tobias' case, paramedics were called to her
Arlington home in the 1900 block of Kitty Street on Tuesday after she
reported that Dylan was not breathing. He was taken to Wolfson's
Children's Hospital in grave condition, with injuries to his head and
a broken leg, the arrest report said.
He was pronounced dead Wednesday from what an
autopsy found was "abusive head trauma," said Lt. Larry Schmitt of the
Sheriff's Office homicide unit.
Tobias told police Tuesday she had been playing a
game on the Web site Facebook when Dylan started crying, the report
said. She said she shook the baby before calling 911 and his head
"could have" hit the computer, the report said.
"I think what sparked her was ... the baby's
crying," Schmitt said. "It was enough to apparently put her over the
Tobias also told police after the first shake, she
laid Dylan on a living-room couch and went to smoke a cigarette to
"gain her composure," the report said. She said the family dog knocked
the boy off the couch, causing him to cry. She said she picked him up
and shook him again, causing him to stop breathing, the report said.
Tobias was initially charged with aggravated child
abuse, which was upgraded to murder when the boy died.
Police records show she had been charged on Dec. 27
with fighting with the baby's father, Earl Jackson Edmondson III. She
was given six months probation and ordered to attend an anger-control
class within 30 days. He was also arrested. The report said that the
state Department of Children and Families was to be notified because
Dylan was home when the fight occurred. It's unclear if the agency got