Prosecutor: Father’s weeping was ‘show’ to hide daughter’s murder

BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter

January 14, 2014 1:08PM

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Updated: February 16, 2014 6:26AM

Richard Lyons never shed a tear when he saw his 9-year-old daughter Mya’s lifeless body on the hospital bed, asphyxiated and punctured with so many stab wounds that an intestine protruded out, medical personnel said.

“He kind of scrunched up his face. I didn’t see him cry,” a Jackson Park Hospital nurse recalled Tuesday in Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan’s courtroom.

But minutes before, Lyons’ neighbor Nakia Akins heard him weep and scream in what prosecutors said was a calculated “show” to cover up his hand in the heinous crime the night of July 14, 2008.

Lyons, now 45, wanted to appear as a “savior” and “hero,” pretending to stumble upon the bloodied Mya in an unkempt alley near his South Side home.

But it was he who stabbed Mya, pounded her with a lockbox and fractured her skull, Assistant State’s Attorney Fabio Valentini said at the opening of Lyons’ murder trial.

Lyons wasn’t arrested until 2½ years later, when a blood spatter expert hired by prosecutors said evidence showed that Mya was stabbed in Lyons’ van — not the alley where he said he found her after he said she fled his house in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court.

Mya, however, wasn’t prone to running away, her mother testified Tuesday.

“She was scared of the dark,” said Ericka Barnes, 33.

Mya, who lived with her mother in Addison, was visiting her father and had been playing with Akins’ children before she and her brother were summoned home and she “disappeared.”

Also visiting the neighborhood that night was Anton Martin, who was watching a movie with his girlfriend in a car and saw Lyons come out of the house with another shirt on in between his quick jaunts in his van.

During cross examination Martin, 35, also said he saw a man walking a dog down the street and a Chevrolet Cavalier — clues defense attorneys insinuated that another person killed Mya.

Assistant Public Defender Andrea Webber also grilled Chicago Police Det. Luke Connolly as to why he didn’t call an evidence technician to immediately process Lyons’ van or his clothes when he questioned him at the hospital.

At the time, Lyons wasn’t a suspect, Connolly said.

Valentini admitted the investigation was a bit “derailed” but said the “ugly” truth was revealed with the additional forensic work.

Webber told jurors that prosecutors just needed “someone to blame” and just wanted to “solve the case at any cost.”

Lyons was a “truly upset father” when he had seen what was done to Mya, the defense attorney said.

Email: rhussain@suntimes.com

Twitter: @rummanahussain

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