Monday, January 13, 2014

Trial to start for dad charged with 2008 murder of 10-year-old daughter during visitation (Chicago, Illinois)

We've posted on this case before. Dad is identified as RICHARD LYONS.,0,2159343.story

Trial to start for father charged with killing daughter

9-year-old found stabbed to death in alley in 2008

By Steve Schmadeke, Tribune reporter January 13, 2014

The brutal killing of a 9-year-old girl who was found stabbed to death in the weeds behind her father's South Side home transfixed Chicago in the summer of 2008.

Almost six years later, Richard Lyons, 45, whose anguished cries upon discovering his daughter Mya's body woke neighbors, is scheduled to go on trial.

The girl, dressed all in pink, her favorite color, had been stabbed more than 10 times, beaten so badly her skull was fractured, and then asphyxiated. Lyons told family and police he found his daughter in the alley behind his Auburn-Gresham home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court.

Once the trial starts Monday with jury selection, jurors are expected to be taken to the home to see the allegedly staged crime scene for themselves. Records show Lyons and his wife no longer own the home after a bank foreclosed on it and it was sold at a sheriff's sale last summer.

Prosecutors have not given a motive for the slaying and are expected to put on a case based mostly on circumstantial evidence. They say spattered blood found in Lyons' 2000 Chevrolet van, which he used to take the girl to Jackson Park Hospital, indicates that Mya was possibly stabbed in the vehicle and not in the alley where she was found.

Authorities have said the girl, who lived with her mother in Addison but was visiting her father, was not sexually assaulted. Lyons is separately charged with criminal sexual abuse in the alleged fondling a male teenage neighbor in 2010.

On the night of the killing, July 14, Lyons ordered Mya and her older brother home from a neighbor's house about 11 p.m., prosecutors said. According to a defense filing, prosecutors believe Lyons stabbed his daughter to death either underneath the back stairs or in his van between 11:17 and 11:40 p.m.

A lockbox found under the stairs in the backyard of Lyons' home matched the pattern of injuries on Mya's back, shoulder and upper arm, according to prosecutors and the defense filing.

Defense attorneys have sought permission to present statements made by a "person of interest" whom police arrested after he told friends and later admitted to police that he was in the alley on his bicycle looking for scrap at the time of the killing.

The defense theory is that the man, who has a prior burglary conviction, was looking to steal from the Lyons home and was caught off-guard when Mya wandered outside, so he killed her, according to a court filing.

The man, a heroin addict, had a cut between his thumb and index finger that police thought resembled a bite mark, and there was blood on his shoes. He was released after tests showed the blood on his shoes was his own, according to a filing by Lyons' attorneys.

Prosecutors have sought to have the man's statements excluded at trial, saying they are "inadmissible hearsay."