Two people convicted in the beating death of a 17-month-old boy in Wayne County did not receive additional prison time during a hearing Friday and left the courtroom free.
Kayla Lord, the child’s mother, and her one-time boyfriend Jared Futrell had already served enough time under an earlier conviction to satisfy the sentences a jury recommended at their recent retrial, according to the Commonwealth-Journal newspaper in Somerset.
Lord’s son, Staten Stephenson, died in July 2011 after suffering more than 30 bruises, a ruptured stomach, damage to his small intestine and a severe skull fracture, according to information in a state Supreme Court decision.
A forensic pathologist concluded that the trauma to Staten’s brain caused it to swell, cutting off the flow of blood and oxygen.
After doctors at the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital determined the brain injury was irreversible, Lord and the the boy’s father, who split up before he was born, agreed to have him removed from life support, according to the Supreme Court account.
Dr. Melissa Curry, a child-abuse pediatrician who examined Staten’s body, said it was virtually certain he had been violently shaken and that his head had either been slammed against a hard surface or hit with something hard and blunt.
Lord and Futrell denied hurting the child.
They suggested during a police interview that Staten might have gotten hurt throwing himself backwards during temper tantrums, or that the injuries might have happened during medical treatment, or perhaps resulted from an accident while someone else was watching him, according to the Supreme Court decision.
However, police and prosecutors believed Lord and Futrell were the only people with opportunity to cause the boy’s injuries.
A Wayne County jury convicted the two of wanton murder — either as the perpetrator or an accomplice — and they were sentenced to 25 years in prison.
The state Supreme Court overturned the convictions in October 2015.
The court ruled that the special judge handling the case erred by not removing two prospective jurors for cause when there was doubt about their ability to be impartial.
Each had a significant relationship with the assistant prosecutor on the case.
Defense attorneys had to use their strikes to remove the two from the pool of potential jurors, meaning they could not use those strikes against other people they wanted off, according to the Supreme Court decision.
The retrial in the case was moved to Pulaski County.
A jury convicted Futrell, now 24, of reckless homicide and Lord of complicity in the crime, according to the Commonwealth-Journal.
The jury recommended a sentence of three years for Futrell and two for Lord.
At sentencing Friday, Commonwealth’s Attorney Matthew Leveridge reportedly sought a sentence of five years each for Lord and Futrell.
However, Circuit Judge David Tapp said it was his understanding that he had no authority to impose a sentence greater than the jury recommendation, the Commonwealth-Journal reported.
Tapp followed the jury recommendation.
That meant Lord and Futrell had already satisfied the sentences before the Supreme Court sent the case back for a retrial.
Tapp told the two he would have put them in prison longer if allowed.