WASHINGTON — Cory Mitchell Lyons, 22, Washington, pleaded guilty to felony murder Monday in Daviess County Superior Court, and a sentencing hearing was set for 1 p.m. May 20.
Lyons was preliminarily charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death, a Class A felony, following the June 27, 2011, death of a 4-month-old infant at 1000 W. Main St. The murder charge was added following an autopsy and investigation. The neglect charge would be dismissed if Judge Dean Sobecki accepts the plea agreement.
At his plea hearing, through attorney Tonya Shaw, Lyons withdrew his initial not-guilty plea, and the judge explained his rights to him. Sobecki explained he can accept or deny the plea agreement and how he would determine sentencing.
“The advisory sentence for murder is 55 years,” Sobecki said, adding that up to 10 years may be added or subtracted based on aggravating or mitigating circumstances. “There’s a maximum fine of $10,000.”
Upon questioning by Shaw at the hearing, Lyons admitted he was alone with the baby on the night in question and that he had banged the baby’s head on the floor multiple times causing its death. The prosecutor had no additional questions for Lyons.
According to the probable cause affidavit in the case, Lyons first reported in the 911 call that the infant had fallen, bumped his head and was not breathing. The child was transported by ambulance to Daviess Community Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.
During subsequent questioning by Washington Police Chief Mike Healy, Lyons told various versions of his explanation of the incident. Originally he advised the baby had fallen out of a “bouncy chair “ and struck his head on a bed frame. After further questioning, Lyons stated he dropped the baby, but didn’t intend to do so. At another interview, Lyons said he dropped the baby on purpose, adding that he thought the infant would land on its butt or that he could catch it. He stated he thought it would scare the baby so it would quit crying.
The report from a June 28, 2011, autopsy performed by Dr. Roland Kohr at Terre Haute Regional Hospital called the cause of death “blunt force trauma” to the head and the manner of death “homicide.” It listed multiple fractures, lacerations and hemorrhages.
On June 29, Healy once again interviewed Lyons, telling him an autopsy had been performed and he didn’t think Lyons had been completely truthful with him. Lyons then told Healy he’d taken the baby out of his chair and laid him on a blanket on the floor. He said he changed the infant’s diaper, but he wouldn’t quit crying.
“I asked him what he did, and he stated he went back into the room and got down on his knees and picked (the infant) up by his shoulders and slammed his head down on the floor,” Healy wrote in the affidavit.
When asked how many times, Lyons said “at least three times.”
The prosecuting attorney will provide names of potential representatives to speak for the deceased minor child, and Sobecki will select one.
“The court will name a victim’s representative as soon as we can review those names and addresses,” he said.
Lyons was remanded back into the custody of the Daviess County Sheriff. He’s being held at the Daviess County Security Center on $1 million bond, but eligible to be released for $100,000.