Richard Lyons defense rests without presenting case

A key witness took the stand in the murder trial of a Richard Lyons - the man accused of killing his 9-year-old daughter Mya.
January 16, 2014 3:15:55 PM PST
Attorneys for Richard Lyons have rested their case without presented any witnesses. Closing arguments in the murder trial begin Friday.

Richard Lyons was not a suspect immediately after the murder of his daughter Mya, but it was apparent he had become one when police confiscated his conversion van. Richard Lyons had told police that he used the van only to transport his fatally wounded daughter to the hospital - but prosecutors say - it was in the van that Richard Lyons repeatedly stabbed his daughter.

Richard Lyons had cleaned the van after Mya's death. Despite that - 17 months later - lab tests were able to show traces of the 9-year-old's blood high on a wind shade, on a front passenger seat belt frame and on a rear passenger seat back. A trace of blood was also found inside the louvers of a dashboard vent - though tests could not confirm it was Mya's.

Prosecutors contend that the only way the little girl's blood could have wound up in those unusual spots was if she was stabbed in the van. To make that case, prosecutors called Rodney Englert to testify. Englert is a retired, long-time crime scene reconstructionist from Oregon, and one of the country's best known "blood spatter" experts. He told the jury that the blood droplet patterns in the van could not have been caused by someone simply placing Mya's body in the van or lifting it out. They were the result of what he calls "medium velocity impact spatter" - meaning the 9-year-old was stabbed repeatedly in the van.

Prosecutors say Richard Lyons stabbed his daughter Mya and then dumped her body, but defense attorneys say there is not enough evidence for a conviction.

Richard Lyons said he screamed in horror when he found his daughter, and in the days that followed he told reporters that his grief over her death was immeasurable. Police and prosecutors say that it was all an act.

It took two and a half years before he was charged, and now his trial will turn largely on how a jury reads circumstantial evidence and the science of blood spatter.

Mya Lyons was spending some time with her father in the summer of 2008. On a July night, she went to a neighbor's house on south Gilbert, and when she didn't come home after being called, her father says he went looking for her and found her lying in a darkened alley. She'd been repeatedly stabbed.

Richard Lyons didn't call police or paramedics, but instead put his daughter in his van and drove her to Jackson Park Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

"I am confident that whoever did this the light will be shined on them. They will be flushed out," Richard Lyons said at the time.

He was not initially a suspect but later became one. Police confiscated his conversion van and based on the location of blood traces, Mya's blood, found in the van, they charged Lyons with his daughter's murder.

Prosecutors Tuesday told the jury that Mya was first beaten with a lockbox, that wounds on her body support that. Defense lawyers say the state-hired forensic expert may be entertaining but the evidence won't connect Richard Lyons in a case where there are no witnesses and no known motive.

Mya's extended family listened Tuesday to the gruesome detail. Her mother, Erica Barnes, testified that Mya would never have ventured out on her own, that she was afraid of the dark, so much so that she always insisted on sleeping with the lights on.

Prosecutors are trying to make the point that Richard Lyons' actions were not in keeping with what an innocent man would do. No calls to police or paramedics, then he took his daughter to a hospital that is not the closest hospital. He did not initially go in and when he did, he said he believed she'd been attacked by a dog.

Still missing is a weapon.