UPDATED 7:46 p.m. JUNE 27:
A tearful Christina Lyons testified on Wednesday that she left 10-week-old Benjamin Spencer unattended while she smoked a cigarette in the garage.
She returned from her smoke break and found her daughter, who was four years old at the time, holding Spencer in the backyard, Lyons testified. She returned the baby to her living room couch where she had left him and then noticed a large bump on the side of his head.
“‘Where did you drop him?’” Lyons said she asked her daughter. “She didn’t answer me. I said, ‘Where did you drop him?’ and she pointed to the deck.”
The defendant said she initially didn’t tell the police that she found her daughter holding Spencer because she didn’t want to blame the incident on the child.
Lyons had testified earlier in the afternoon that her daughter showered Baby Ben with attention and often tried to hold him.
“If I turned my back, she would pick him up,” Lyons said.
The defendant took the stand late Wednesday afternoon and testified for less than an hour before 428th District Judge Bill Henry recessed for the day.
Her testimony will resume tomorrow including cross-examination by prosecutors who say Lyons caused the skull and rib fractures that killed Benjamin Spencer a week after he was injured.
by BRAD ROLLINS
Three relatives of an accused murderer testified today that that they saw defendant Christina Lyon’s young daughter roughhouse a baby doll in the hours and days after a 10-week-old baby was fatally injured while under Lyon’s care.
Lyons, who ran an at-home daycare in the Steeplechase neighborhood of Kyle, is accused of causing injuries that killed 10-week-old Benjamin Spencer in November 2010. Spencer died a week later of the injuries, which included skull and rib fractures.
Lyons told investigators that she left Spencer unattended on a couch while she used the restroom, later admitting she was smoking a cigarette in the garage. She said she returned to find her daughter, who was four years old at the time, holding the injured baby.
Defense attorneys have suggested that Lyons’ daughter was responsible for Spencer’s injuries, possibly by pushing the newborn down a slide in the backyard. Doctors who previously testified in the trial said they did not think a four-year-old was strong enough to cause Spencer’s injuries nor that they could be caused under circumstances the defense suggest.
Lyons’ husband, Robert Lyons, and her mother and sister, Cindy and Mikayla Cook, testified that they saw — on two separate occasions — the little girl slam a baby doll’s head against a table. Prosecutors pointed out that none of them told investigators about what they saw; they said that they were never asked and didn’t trust the Kyle Police Department.
Mikayala Cook was poised to testify that she heard the little girl say things the day Spencer was injured that Mikayala Cook took to mean the girl had hurt the baby. The testimony was not admissible because it is hearsay and doesn’t fall within exceptions to the hearsay rule, District Judge Bill Henry ruled.
At one point in the afternoon’s testimony, assistant District Attorney Cathy Compton introduced a jailhouse recording of Cindy Cook telling her daughter that she had to “play it cool and play it dumb” and that she was “really going to have to put on a show.”
Upon questioning, however, Cook said the conversation was about marital problems Lyons was having with her husband and was not related to Spencer’s death; Compton essentially conceded as much. The recording was not played in the presence of the jury but was referenced in an attempt to cast doubt on Cindy Cook’s credibility.
If convicted, Lyons faces as much as 99 years in prison on the capital murder charge. Hays County District Attorney Sherri Tibbe did not seek the death penalty in the case.
Defendant Christina Lyons has just taken the stand. Check the San Marcos Mercury for updates later.