After deliberating for fewer than two hours, a jury found Richard Lyons guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his 9-year-old daughter. Regina Waldroup reports.
After deliberating for fewer than two hours, a jury found Richard Lyons guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his 9-year-old daughter.
In the summer of 2008, Richard Lyons told officers he found his daughter's bloody body in an alley near his home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court. Lyons rushed her to the hospital to try and save her life.
Two years later he was arrested, and his murder trial began this week.
Prosecutors said Lyons beat his daughter, Mya, with a lock box and strangled her in a moment of rage. To throw police off, prosecutors said he repeatedly stabbed the girl with a large knife and dumped her body in a vacant lot near his home.
Prosecutors said Lyons then pretended to discover her body so he would be seen as a hero.
"This wasn't a stranger ... nor a manic my daughter happened to wonder upon. This was her father," Mya's mother, Ericka Barnes told reporters after the verdict was read. "She loved her father. The fact hat he could do something like this to her ... it hurts me."
Lyons' attorneys contended that a would-be burglar killed Mya and that she was out after her curfew when she stumbled upon a man who was trying to break into a basement. The man strangled the girl and repeatedly stabbed her, they said, arguing that prosecutors have no motive, eyewitnesses or direct physical evidence proving Lyons killed his daughter.
But prosecutors argued otherwise.
"He stabbed her to keep her from telling her story. And he also stabbed her to make it appear a crazy person wandering through an alley killed her instead of him," Assistant State's Attorney Fabio Valentini said.
Blood splatter found on Lyons' white tennis shoes was the only physical evidence tying him to the murder.
"The blood spatter was key. There were other evidence, but that was key," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said. "We are not quite sure what the motive was, but this is a horrendous crime to think that a father could do that."
Despite the verdict, Lyons' uncle said jurors got it all wrong.
"I still believe in my heart that my nephew is innocent," Derrick Lyons said.
Hundreds attended Mya's funeral. The service included a personal note from then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
"I cannot pretend to understand the struggle that you have been forced to endure as a result of this senseless violence...," Obama wrote, adding, "As a parent myself, I can only imagine the unbearable pain you are experiencing as well as the uncertainty of so many questions left unanswered."