The plea came as a result of an agreement with the Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney's office in which the second degree murder charge against Vaden was dropped.
Because of the nature of the crime, Vaden, 23, will be required to serve at least 85 percent of the time before he becomes eligible for parole. He will not be eligible for probation at any time.
Vaden, wearing a Jasper County Jail orange jumpsuit and shackled, answered a series of questions from Greene County Circuit Court Judge Michael Cordonnier on whether he understood every aspect of the plea and the rights he is giving up by entering it in a soft monotone, replying "Yes, sir," to each of the questions.
"Do you realize if you plead guilty your right to a trial will be lost forever?" Cordonnier asked.
(The statement released by Jalen Vaden and his attorney after the plea hearing can be found at this link.)
Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Theresa Kenney detailed the evidence that would have been presented if Vaden had gone to trial.
The familiar details from the original probable cause statement were recounted, but Kenney also added others which explained why investigators zeroed in on Vaden rather than the other adult who was in the home at 405 Meadow Lake Drive in Carl Junction the night of November 27, 2017, Jayda's mother, Devyn Kyle.
When Carl Junction Police Department officers arrived, emergency medical personnel were already working on Jayda, Kenney said.
Vaden had blood on his shirt and there was blood on the floor in the child's room as well as on the bed.
After it was determined that Jayda Kyle's death, which occurred December 1 after she had been airlifted to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, did not come as a result of any medical condition, but rather from abuse, investigators questioned Vaden and Kyle separately after advising them of their Miranda rights.
Kenney said that in the videotaped interview, Vaden told officers he did not intend to hurt Jayda, but "he just snapped."
Vaden's descriptions of what he had done to Jayda and where he had done it matched up completely with the physical evidence from the crime scene and the medical evidence, Kenney said.
As the prosecuting attorney described Vaden's actions, he stared straight ahead not showing any emotion.
Jasper County Juvenile office documents dated November 30, 2017 revealed that Jayda Kyle was likely already brain dead when she arrived at Children's Mercy Hospital, but she was not stable enough for doctors to do the test. The doctors were able to determine that she appeared to have no brain activity:
"Initially, the ED doctor stated he believed the child had suffered an aneurysm. Jayda was then seen by a neurosurgeon with the SCAN team who reported the amount of brain bleed and retinal damage is non-natural causes."
The tests showed that Jayda had a severely torn retina. The doctors determined that the child would be blind if by some miracle if she survived.
Medical personnel were in and out of Jayda's room Nov. 29 as she kept coding, according to the report. She was officially pronounced dead December 1.
Vaden insisted in a five-page letter sent from the Jasper County Jail to Jayda Kyle's father, Mackenzie Kyle, in January 2018 that he did not commit the murder..
"I've prayed for you everyday since I got to this hell hole," Vaden said. "I pray that you know I didn't do this to (Jayda)."
"They were teaching me way more than I thought I was teaching them. They softened my heart and showed me what real love is."
Vaden added, "Those babies were my life and I have you to thank for that."
During the questioning form Judge Cordonnier, Vaden, under oath, acknowledged that he had done everything the prosecuting attorney said he did.
Kenney said the family of Jayda Kyle, some of whom were in the courtroom, were fully informed about the plea agreement.
Cordonnier asked if family members had any impact statements. Kenney said they did not wish to make any statements.