Francis Lyles pleaded innocent Wednesday to two counts of first-degree felony murder, along with three counts of cruelty to children and obstruction of justice for the June 24 beating death of her 3-year-old son Xavier Lyles.
The toddler was found in the 2500 block of Pomeroy Road Southeast unconscious and unresponsive, with multiple injuries. According to prosecutors, she used so much force that the child sustained a lacerated liver, ruptured kidneys and bleeding around his heart, among other injuries.
On October 24, Lyles was expected to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and perjury, but recanted her guilty plea and requested a new attorney after a judge asked her to explain what happened, in her own words, to her son.
“Your Honor, I didn’t hurt my baby!” she told the judge. “I want a chance to get a lawyer and a new case!”
Lyles sobbed as marshals escorted her out of the courtroom, still calling out: “I didn’t hurt my baby and I need a new lawyer! I’m sorry Your Honor but I didn’t hurt my baby!”
Family members said they are looking to hire a private attorney to represent Lyles, in place of David Maxted, her court-appointed public defender.
Documents say Lyles told police that she left the apartment for approximately 20 to 30 minutes while her boyfriend watched Xavier and that Xavier was sleeping when she returned. In an interview, Lyles initially told police that she “hardly ever physically disciplines her children” and that her boyfriend doesn’t hit them at all, but in a later interview she said she hits them occasionally and believed that her boyfriend must have hurt Xavier while she was gone, according to documents.
Witnesses told police that on the night before the child’s death, they heard “screaming and hollering” coming from Lyles’ apartment and that Lyles is known to abuse her children. A witness provided police with recorded telephone conversations where Lyles boasted to it that she “f**ked him up good,” after Xavier tripped over a bouncer seat.
Lyles is scheduled for ascertainment of counsel November 19 before Judge Jennifer Anderson.
A copy of the indictment is below: