Erica Lawson is a twenty one year old woman from Kentucky who has been charged with the murder of her seventeen month old daughter Elena Hembree and now prosecutors have announced they are seeking the death penalty in this horrific case
According to police reports seventeen month old Elena Hembree was found unresponsive after the little girl was sexually assaulted and badly beaten. Unfortunately the infant would die days later in the hospital.
Police in Kentucky have announced they are using DNA to determine who else may have had a role in Elena Hembree death.
Erica Lawson faces a host of charges including murder, failure to report child abuse, first-degree criminal abuse, and first-degree wanton endangerment.
Apparently the little girl’s uncle went to the police before Elena Hembree died saying that he saw bruises and burns on his niece. However police were unable to locate Erica Lawson or Elena Hembree. Time they found her it was too late
Erica Lawson More News
Kentucky prosecutors filed noticed Tuesday they plan to seek the death penalty against a young Bell County woman accused of murdering her 17-month-old daughter.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Fugate filed notice Tuesday in Bell County Circuit Court that she would seek to prove aggravating circumstances in the death of Elena Hembree that merit a possible death sentence for Erica Lawson.
In this case, the top prosecutor alleges, the victim’s status as a child and the fact that the killing was deliberate merit consideration of the death penalty.
The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office confirmed Tuesday afternoon they’d filed notice in the Bell County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office to pursue death.
Fugate had suggested earlier this summer that her office might seek to execute Lawson, 21, if she’s found guilty of murder.
The indictment alleges Lawson failed to help Elena when she was unable to breathe. It also accuses Lawson of abusing her and leaving bruises, as well as using drugs while she was supposed to be caring for the child.
Lawson was indicted last month in Bell County for murder, failure to report child abuse, first-degree criminal abuse, and first-degree wanton endangerment.
Authorities said Elena suffered severe injuries in late July and was taken to Middlesboro ARH Hospital. Due to the extent of her injuries, she was flown to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Elena died July 30.
Authorities said the toddler, 17-month-old Elena Hembree, died in the hospital from her injuries after she was sexually assaulted. Authorities said she was severely injured and was taken to the Middlesboro ARH Hospital on Friday, July 28. Due to the extent of her injuries, she was flown to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Elena died on July 30.
“In my time with the commonwealth, this is one of the most severe cases of abuse, specifically because that baby is 17 months old at that time,” Caley Ayers from the Middlesboro Police Department said.
Police arrested the mother, 21-year-old Erica Lawson, for manslaughter, criminal abuse of a child under 12, wanton endangerment, and failure to report child abuse. She waived a hearing on Aug. 8, so the case was sent directly to a Bell County Grand Jury.
The grand jury returned an indictment on Aug. 22, formally charging Erica Lawson for murder, failure to report child abuse, first-degree criminal abuse, and first-degree wanton endangerment.
The indictment said Erica Lawson failed to help Elena when she was unable to breathe. It also accused Lawson of abusing her and leaving bruises, as well as using drugs while she was taking care of the child.
Lawson will stay in custody on a $1 million bond. Commonwealth Attorney Lisa Fugate said they could now push for the death penalty against Lawson. Kentucky has 26 people on death row and has only executed three people since 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
On Aug. 4, the Middlesboro Police Department said they were using DNA test results to identify other suspects in the young girl’s death. Fugate said they were able to expedite six DNA samples and results are expected to return in as soon as three weeks.
Police previously said the child’s uncle went to authorities several weeks ago after suspecting that someone burned her. However, police “couldn’t find the kid and the uncle did not know where the kid was at the time.”
The Middlesboro community also mourned the death of the 17-month-old on Aug. 5, gathering to reflect on her life and to push for reforming child abuse laws.