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Thread: James Lyons Sentenced to LWOP in 2009 OH Slaying of Infant Son Jaden Jenkins

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    James Lyons Sentenced to LWOP in 2009 OH Slaying of Infant Son Jaden Jenkins

    Judge panel to try baby death case

    James Lyons doesn't want a jury to hear about the horrific injuries or see autopsy pictures of the infant son he allegedly beat to death, so he asked Monday for an unusual way to deal with his death-penalty murder case.

    Lyons, 28, of Avondale, asked for and was granted a three-judge panel to hear the case instead of jurors.

    Dan Burke, one of Lyons' two court-appointed attorneys, said they wanted to avoid a jury trial "because of the nature of the injuries of the child ... the emotional issue."

    Lyons is accused of beating his 19-month-old son, Jaden Jenkins, to death Sept. 12, 2009. The child's skull was fractured by at least seven blows and the majority of his ribs were fractured. Prosecutors estimated the child had been beaten for more than a year. Lyons is charged with aggravated murder, felonious assault and child endangering. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

    Under Ohio law, those charged with a crime with the ultimate penalty - death - cannot plead guilty. Asking for a three-judge panel often is the precursor to what effectively is a guilty plea in such a case but not in this one, Burke said.

    The case originally was assigned to Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Pat DeWine who will remain on and preside over the three-judge panel. On Monday, two other judges were selected to complete the panel. They are Melba Marsh and Jerome Metz.

    The judges will hear the evidence as a jury would and render a decision on guilt or innocence. If Lyons is convicted of capital murder, a second phase of the trial is held where prosecutors will ask for the death penalty and Lyons attorneys will try to save his life. In addition to the death penalty, the judges can impose sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole, life without the possibility of parole for 30 years, life without the possibility of parole for 25 years or life without the possibility of parole for 20 years.

    That is, if Lyons lives that long.

    His attorneys sought the three-judge panel earlier, but the original hearing on the issue was delayed because Lyons was taken to the hospital where he said he almost died. Lyons, Burke said, suffers from a severe case of sickle-cell disease, a painful blood disorder where the normally disk-shaped blood cells instead are shaped like "sickles" - or the letter C - and block blood flow that can cause organ failure and even death.

    The case is next in court Oct. 6.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/AB/20100913/NEWS010702/9140313/

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    Dad faces two death penalties

    Prosecutors want ultimate punishment for killing toddler but disease may beat them to it



    CINCINNATI -- There's no question how 19-month-old Jaden Jenkins died -- brutally beaten over several months, succumbing to a final Sept. 12, 2009, attack so fierce it knocked out two of his teeth.

    There also is no question who killed the toddler -- his own father, James Lyons, who now is fighting for his own life in two different ways.

    "We're not denying that he killed the child," said Dan Burke, Lyons' attorney, adding his client gave police a lengthy confession.

    Hamilton County prosecutors want the death penalty for Lyons, 28, of North Avondale, in an unusual capital murder trial that starts Monday. He is charged with aggravated murder, felonious assault and child endangering.

    Lyons' death-penalty case is the first of four expected to be tried in Hamilton County this year with child victims. He also is suffering from sickle-cell, a life-threatening disease that almost killed him last year.

    "I will admit I have an affinity for cases where kids are victims. I do," Prosecutor Joe Deters said. "It's unimaginable the horror these babies go through at the hands of these (adults)."

    Burke will consider his job successful if he spares Lyons from a date with death. "Our goal is to keep him off of death row, to try to save his life," he said.

    To do that, Burke made two strategic moves before the trial:

    He and Lyons asked that judges -- not a jury -- preside over the case because of the child's gruesome injuries.

    "The skeletal injuries are just horrific," Assistant Prosecutor Gus Leon said. "It's the worst you can see."

    To try to take the emotion out of the trial, Burke and Lyons decided to have a three-judge panel to hear the case, the only other option to a jury in an Ohio capital case.

    To prove the child was severely beaten often and over a long period of time, Leon will call several experts to testify.

    One is a bone expert who, Leon said, will testify Jaden had a fractured skull -- caused by at least seven head blows -- and suffered at least 11 broken ribs during his life.

    Another is a tool expert who will testify that the two teeth from the child's mouth found at the death scene weren't extracted by tools, Leon said. That will show, he added, that Lyons knocked them out with his fists.

    DNA tests also were done on the teeth -- in an abundance of caution, Leon said -- to prove they belonged to Jaden.

    Because the case originally was assigned to Common Pleas Court Judge Pat DeWine, he will preside over the panel with fellow Judges Melba Marsh and Jerome Metz.

    Burke will call a series of witnesses -- perhaps more than a dozen -- who will testify about what a great guy Lyons is.

    Burke said Lyons just snapped when he allegedly beat his son to death.

    "He just lost it," Burke said.

    But prosecutors, especially with Deters as boss, won't let that excuse deter them from seeking the death penalty in a case where a child was killed.

    Deters successfully lobbied state lawmakers more than a decade ago to change Ohio law, making those who kill a child under age 13 eligible for the death penalty.

    If there is proof and the facts fit a case where a child is killed, Deters tells his staff to seek the death penalty. "To be perfectly candid, we don't always get the death penalty, but we still seek it," he said.

    "These are not like one-punch deals. We see multiple injuries, often over a long time."

    Of the five other pending Hamilton County capital cases, three involve allegations of beating, smothering or choking a child to death:

    Chris Dangerfield: Charged in the Dec. 28, 2010, beating death of 3-year-old son, Tyrese Short;

    Lionell Dangerfield: Accused of the May 29, 2010, beating death of his girlfriend's 3-month-old, Zhi Merah Binford. Dangerfield is the son of Chris Dangerfield;

    Thomas Huge: Accused of the Sept. 7, 2010, smothering death of 15-month-old daughter, Kayli Bates.

    Lyons almost made prosecutors' execution request unnecessary.

    He suffers from sickle-cell disease, a blood disorder where normal oval blood cells instead are C-shaped, like sickles. The sickle cells block blood flow and can cause organ failure and death.

    That illness has hospitalized him several times over his life, including last summer when it almost killed him.

    "He's been in extreme pain all his life. Extreme pain," Burke said of Lyons' illness.

    Prosecutors had to wait until Lyons was healthy enough before they could seek to have him executed.

    "There sure is an irony there. No doubt about it," Leon said.

    In addition to the death penalty, other possible punishments for Lyons are life in prison without parole, 20 years to life in prison without parole, 25 years to life in prison without parole and 30 years to life without parole.

    The case is expected to last much of the week.

    http://www.coshoctontribune.com/arti...text|FRONTPAGE

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    Prosecutor outlines tot's horrific life

    Jaden Jenkins was born to a mentally ill mother and a father with a potentially fatal disease. Then, his life got worse.

    That was the opinion of Hamilton County prosecutors Monday as they seek to convict Jaden's father - James Lyons - of capital murder and impose the death penalty.

    "What happened then was a life of abuse," Assistant Prosecutor Anne Flanagan told the three-judge panel hearing the case instead of a jury.

    Lyons, 28, of North Avondale, is accused of beating his 19-month-old son to death Sept. 12 and then waiting 45 minutes - so he could clean up the mess the alleged killing caused - before taking the lifeless body to the hospital.

    Jaden "was subjected to repeated beating, repeated abuse," said Flanagan.

    Jaden was born, Flanagan said, to a mother who had issues herself.

    When the mother checked herself in for mental health treatment, Flanagan said, Jaden began living with his father who suffers from sickle cell, a painful blood disorder that can be fatal.

    Hamilton County's Department of Jobs & Family Services offered Lyons help with the child but, Flanagan said, he refused.

    One of Lyon's attorneys, Dan Burke, admitted his client almost surely would be convicted in the guilt/innocence phase of the trial. "We aren't denying that James Lyons ... caused the injuries that caused Jaden's death," he said.

    His goal, Burke admitted, is trying to save Lyon's life.

    Prosecutors, though, will call several witnesses they expect will lay out a life of pain and suffering for the toddler.

    A bone expert will testify, Flanagan said, that at least 11 of Jaden's ribs were broken during his life, some of them multiple times. The child had more than 45 fractures on his body when he died, she said.

    "The little skull fractured in two places, consistent with being stomped," Flanagan said. "This little child's body had suffered."

    When police asked Lyons how his son received such substantial injuries, Flanagan said Lyons gave several stories, all differing to fit the each new piece of evidence with which police confronted him.

    Finally, she said, Lyons admitted beating the life out of his child so brutally that he knocked out two of his 19-month-old son's teeth.

    Lyons admitted he punched his son four or five times to discipline him, Flanagan said.

    When police asked him what Jaden did to deserve a deadly beating, Lyons responded "He was just playing with his toys," Flanagan said.

    Lyons, who almost died last year from sickle cell while in custody, appeared in court in a wheelchair.

    Common Pleas Court Judge Pat DeWine is presiding over the three-judge panel because the case initially was assigned to him.

    When Lyons asked for the three-judge panel, Common Pleas Court Judges Melba Marsh and Jerome Metz were added.

    The trial is expected to last much of the week.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2...-horrific-life

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    Dad admits killing toddler



    James Lyons admitted today he beat his 19-month-old son to death, an admission he hopes will save his own life.

    Lyons, 28, of Avondale, is charged with aggravated murder, felonious assault and child endangering in the Sept. 12, 2009, brutal, beating death of his son Jared Jenkins.

    The guilty plea doesn't eliminate the death penalty as a possible punishment but Lyons' attorneys hope it will convince a three-judge panel - hearing the case instead of a jury at Lyons' request - to impose any sentence but death. All other potential sentences carry a maximum prison term of life. The minimum is 25 years to life in prison.

    The plea comes after Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutors Anne Flanagan and Gus Leon have been presenting evidence since the trial opened Monday. That evidence includes expert testimony that showed the child, in short life, had 48 bone fractures, including fractures on top of healing fractures. At least 11 of the child's ribs were broken and his skull was fractured several times.

    The admission also comes as prosecutors had just one witness left to present in addition to playing Lyons' statement to police where prosecutors said he confessed to the fatal beating.

    Lyons' attorney, Dan Burke, admitted in Monday's opening statements that Jared died from injuries caused by Lyons.

    Lyons suffers from sickle cell anemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder that almost killed him last summer.

    Prosecutors had to wait for Lyons to recover before they sought to have him executed.

    The guilty plea ends this phase of the trial. It resumes Monday when Lyons' attorneys will present mitigation, witness who will testify to what a bad life Lyons has had, intended to convince judge's to impose a sentence less than death.

    The three-judge panel is presided over by Common Pleas Court Judge Pat DeWine, who initially presided over the case before Lyons chose to waive a jury, and Melba Marsh and Jerome Metz.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2...yssey=nav|head

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    Sickle-cell dad guilty of aggravated murder

    Judges will decide if James Lyons faces one death penalty or the other



    A three-judge panel found a 28-year-old man guilty of aggravated murder for the beating death of his infant son.

    James Lyons faces the death penalty when the panel comes back to discuss the case, presumably next week.

    The late afternoon verdict Monday came after a full day of deliberating.

    On Friday the panel of judges Pat DeWine, Melba Marsh and Jerome Mertz could not agree on the aggravated murder charge, the charge needed for the death penalty, but found Lyons guilty of the eight remaining charges that include a lesser level of murder.

    The panel came back on Monday and spent the bulk of the day behind closed doors deliberating on the aggravated murder charge.

    Lyons' case is an unusual one.

    He is in the advanced stages of sickle-cell anemia, a potentially fatal blood disorder.

    He opted for a three-judge panel to hear the case over a jury and on Thursday, midway through the trial, he decided to enter a guilty plea to all the charges, including the one that could put him to death.

    It was time, his attorney Dan Burke said of the decision to plead guilty.

    Lyons sat in a wheelchair while the judges deliberated Monday and at times he rested his head on the table.

    "We're disappointed," said Burke of the decision.

    Lyons admitted to police in September 2009 that he punched Jayden Jenkins in the head because he wouldn't drink his orange juice. He said he punched him repeatedly that day and often. Prosecutors say that Jayden had about 45 fractures in his little body when he died at 19 months.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2...text|FRONTPAGE

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    It took just an hour for three Hamilton County judges to decide James Lyons didnt deserve to die after he was convicted of beating or stomping his 19-month-old son to death.

    He escaped the death penalty Thursday when he was sentenced to life without parole.

    Lyons, 28, of North Avondale, was convicted earlier this week of aggravated murder for killing a child under age 13, a conviction that made him eligible for the death penalty.

    He beat son Jaden Jenkins to death Sept. 12, 2009, after the child refused to drink his orange juice.

    I feel like dirt for that and maybe I am but I cant label myself. Thats for the courts to do, Lyons testified Thursday.

    I know what I did was so, so wrong. Nothing ever, ever can justify the things that I did to my son.

    The sentence wasnt surprising considering the difficulty the judges had in reaching a conviction. Even though Lyons pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and the defense presented no evidence, it took two days for the judges to unanimously agree to convict Lyons of the crime that made him eligible for the death penalty.

    A death sentence could be imposed only if all three judges agreed on it. The case was presided over by Common Pleas Court judges Pat DeWine, Melba Marsh and Jerome Metz.

    Lyons attorneys called a series of witnesses Wednesday and Thursday, presenting evidence of Lyons tough childhood and illnesses, hoping to convince the judges to sentence Lyons to something other than death.

    Lyons asked for a three-judge panel to hear his case instead of a jury because, his attorney, Dan Burke admitted, the injuries to Jaden were horrific and they didnt want that emotion injected into a jury trial.

    Lyons is ill. He almost died last summer from sickle cell anemia and had to recover so the prosecutors could seek to have him executed.

    Normally, blood cells are oval shaped. In sickle cell, though, they are shaped like a C or a sickle, cause pain and can result in organ failure or death.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2...yssey=nav|head

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