Prosecutors: Maywood mom, boyfriend fatally beat boy for ‘crying and whining’
BY STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org April 19, 2013 11:04PM
Amber Alert photo of Bryeon Hunter, 1&1/2 years old, taken by force from his home in Maywood. | Provided Photo
Updated: May 22, 2013 7:04AM
To stop her toddler’s “whining,” Lakeshia Baker repeatedly thrashed the child with a belt, while her boyfriend muffled the cries of pain with his hand, a Cook County prosecutor said in court Saturday.
The couple silenced Bryeon Hunter for good on April 16, when — with his body bruised and limp — the little boy stopped breathing, prosecutors allege.
A sobbing Baker, 22, was ordered held without bond Saturday on murder charges following a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse. Judge Laura Sullivan ordered Baker’s boyfriend, Michael Scott — also charged with murder — held on $750,000 bond.
The case drew widespread attention earlier this week, after Baker claimed she and Bryeon had been set upon in Maywood by three men, who savagely beat her and then kidnapped her child. Those claims triggered an Amber Alert. Baker even appeared on TV, pleading for Bryeon’s safe return.
Talking to reporters Saturday, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez called the kidnapping story “a cruel hoax, made only more sinister in that they were covering up the murder of this child.”
It was common for Baker to sit Bryeon on the toilet for hours on end in their Maywood home, and beat him with the belt — as a form of discipline and potty training, prosecutors said. But on Tuesday, Bryeon spent his last morning “lying on the bathroom floor moaning and having difficulty breathing.”
After the child died, Baker and Scott then concocted the story about the kidnapping, disposed of the body and even rehearsed the story with Baker’s 4-year-old son, prosecutors said.
But things apparently unraveled after police presented Baker with some photographs of possible suspects in the kidnapping, and Baker fingered a man who later turned out to be in prison.
Baker and Scott, 21, then confessed the grisly details of the crime to investigators, assistant state’s attorney Melissa Samp said during the bond hearings.
Baker told police that Scott claimed to have taken Bryeon’s body away in a backpack and that he said he dumped the body in the Des Plaines River. But Scott told police that it was Baker who disposed of her son’s body.
Investigators have not yet found the body.
“As prosecutors, we deal with some extremely violent and horrific crimes,” Alvarez said. “But this case strikes us particularly heinous.”
Baker’s defense attorney, Irv Frazin, told reporters his client is innocent and is herself a victim of Scott.
“She has been abused and beaten on a regular basis,” Frazin said. “She’s been hospitalized regularly by the man who is in the lock up with her.”
Baker appeared in court with two pronounced black eyes, which she initially told investigators came from her attackers. She then later admitted that Scott had beaten her, prosecutors say.