San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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by BRAD ROLLINS

The last person to testify on Thursday in the capital murder trial of Kyle daycare provider Christina Lyons was the accused murderer herself.

Lyons

During eight days of testimony in 428th District Judge Bill Henry’s court, prosecutors have sought to portray the 33-year-old Lyons as a pill-popping, emotionally unstable shirker who blames her young daughter for injuries that killed 10-week-old Benjamin Spencer in November 2010.

Defense attorneys cast her as a conscientious and hardworking daughter of a Comal County sheriff’s deputy who made a deadly mistake by leaving the baby alone within reach of her daughter while she used the restroom, sorted laundry and smoked a cigarette in the garage.

Answering questions today from court-appointed defense counsel Ariel Payan, Lyons acknowledged she failed in her duties as a childcare provider but said she didn’t kill or otherwise harm the baby.

Lyons testified she returned from her break to find her young daughter in the backyard holding a baby with a knot on his head. Spencer died of injuries that included skull and rib fractures a week later.

“Whose job was it to protect him?” Payan asked.

“It was mine,” Lyons said.

“Did you do that?” Payan asked.

“No,” Lyons said through tears.

She testified she did not tell Kyle Police Det. Pedro Carrasco that she found her daughter holding Spencer because she wasn’t thinking clearly and didn’t want to involve the girl. She did, however, tell a Child Protective Services agent that her daughter was holding the baby when she reported the incident to daycare licensers the next morning.

Under cross examination, prosecutors asked Lyons about her prescriptions to anti-depressant Cymbalta, anxiety drug Xanax and sleeping aid Ambien.

Lyons said she began seeing a psychiatrist in 2008 when she became depressed after the birth of her daughter. At the time of Spencer’s injuries, Lyons said she was taking her anti-depressant daily as prescribed and the others sparingly.

Lyons testified she sneaked away once or twice every day from the seven or eight children she watched to smoke a cigarette in the garage.

She admitted she left Spencer lying unattended on the living room couch while she did this on more than one occasion. But said she only did so during nap time when the older children were lying down elsewhere at her Steeplechase home.

Assistant District Attorney Amy Lockhart, who is prosecuting the case with Cathy Compton, asked if she was sacrificing her daughter to save herself.

“I am not saving myself. I’m trying to get the truth out that I do not know what happened that day,” Lyons said.

A Dell Childrens’ Hospital radiologist who reviewed Spencer’s medical images testified that most likely his injuries could not have been caused by a four-year-old girl.

Lockhart and Compton have also grilled three of Lyons’ relatives who testified they saw Lyons’ daughter slamming a baby doll’s head against a table on two separate occasions.

Prosecutors have pointed out that Lyons’ husband Robert’s and her mother Cindy’s versions of one of those baby doll episodes differ. Robert Lyons said she was holding the toy by its legs; Cindy Cook said she was holding the doll by its middle, a discrepancy that may or may not call the account into question.

Closing statements begin tomorrow and, by early afternoon, a jury is expected be deciding Lyons’ fate. According to instructions Henry will give to jurors, they will have the option of convicting Lyons on lesser charges than capital murder.

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