The courtroom was silent Friday in the moments before Frances Lyles was expected to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and perjury.
Minutes passed while Lyles struggled to speak. Then, Lyles took a deep breath and answered, “Yes.”
But when the judge asked her to explain to the court in her own words the events that led up to her child’s death, Lyles was silent.
According to the proffer of facts, on the night of June 23, 2014, Lyles became upset and repeatedly hit her son. She used so much force, prosecutors said, that the child sustained a lacerated liver, ruptured kidneys and bleeding around his heart, among other injuries. He was put to bed and left alone in his room for 15 hours.
At 11:07 a.m. the following day, Lyles called 911 when she found him in his bed, unconscious and unresponsive, documents say. When authorities arrived at Lyle’s home on Pomeroy Road Southeast, the toddler was pronounced dead.
“Only you know what happened so I need to hear you say it in your own words,” Judge Anderson said. But Lyles stayed silent.
Family members who were in the court room urged Lyles to refrain from admitting guilt before the court marshal silenced them.
Lyles, trying to hold back tears, turned and looked at her family.
“Did you strike your child?” Judge Anderson asked.
Suddenly, Lyles began to shout as she recanted her guilty plea.
“Your Honor, I didn’t hurt my baby! I want a chance to get a lawyer and a new case! I didn’t hurt my baby and I need a new lawyer!” Lyles cried as marshals escorted her out of the courtroom. “I’m sorry Your Honor but I didn’t hurt my baby!”
A felony status conference has been set for October 29 at 9:30 a.m., where Judge Anderson will decide whether she will grant Lyles’ request for a new attorney.