According to Bell County Commonwealth Attorney Lisa Fugate, the 17-month-old girl had signs of physical and sexual abuse. The child was taken to the children’s hospital on July 28 where the hospital staff attempted to save her by putting her on life support.
However, Fugate said the child died on July 30 due to the severity of her injuries.
While medical care was administered, Middlesboro Police officers began investigating who was responsible for abusing the child, according to WATE’s media partner, WRIL. Officers interviewed the child’s mother, Erica Lawson, of Middlesboro, Ky.
After the interview, Lawson was arrested in connection to the child’s death, WRIL said. She has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, failure to report child neglect/abuse, first-degree criminal abuse against a child under 12 and first-degree wanton endangerment.
“Detective Cowan and joint investigator Officer Caleb Ayers have been diligently looking into hundreds of leads which have included multiple interviews. Along with evidence gathered in the investigation was DNA from subjects questioned as to their role in this incident. That DNA has been sent for testing which will assist our officers in bringing the culprits to justice.
Our department is making every effort to follow proper protocol to build a case that will assist the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office in prosecuting the offenders to the fullest extent of the law.
If you have information that may contribute to this investigation, please call Middlesboro Dispatch at 606-248-3636. All calls will be kept confidential.”Middlesboro Police Department
Lawson was booked into the Bell County Detention Center.
According to an update from WRIL, Lawson has been arraigned in Bell County District Court. The Middlesboro Police Department said her bond has been set for a $1,000,000 cash bond in her case and the next court appearance will be Aug. 8.
The Department of Child Services is assisting the Middlesboro Police Department in the investigation. WRIL added that another arrest is expected.