UPDATE: Lena Lunsford Conaway found guilty of murder
A Lewis County jury has found Lena Lunsford Conaway guilty of murdering her three-year-old daughter, Aliayah, in 2011.
Lunsford was found guilty of one count of murder of a child by parent, guardian, or custodian or other person by refusal or failure to provide necessities, one count of the death of a child by a parent, guardian, or custodian or other person by child abuse, one count of child abuse resulting in injury, and one count of concealment of deceased human body.
Officials will be back in the courtroom tomorrow for a mercy verdict.
Jury deliberations are underway in the Lena Lunsford Conaway trial.
In closing arguments, Lewis County Prosecuting Attorney Christina Flanigan explained the strength of the state's presentation. Flanigan stressed the testimony from Lunsford Conaway's two other daughters, D.C. and K.C, plus evidence of DOH videos showing Lunsford Conaway's van leaving from and returning to their home in Bendale on the morning of Aliayah's disappearance.
On the defense side, attorney Tom Dyer reiterated the claim that there's no evidence of death -- something he stressed during prior days of the trial. Dyer questioned the consistency of stories told by the sisters.
The jury has begun deliberating
On Monday morning, the defense rested his case in the murder trial of Lena Lunsford Conaway.
Defense Attorney Tom Dyer called two witnesses to the stand Monday morning.
Dyer called Pat McCarty to the stand, who remembers an interview with a member of the Pagan Motorcycle Gang who had been arrested for a DUI.
McCarty explained that the Lunsford case was brought up and how they may have played a role in Aliayah’s disappearance. During cross-examination, McCarty explained that he didn’t know much about the case because it wasn’t his case, and he was just passing along information to Lewis County officials that might have been helpful.
The last witness of the trial was a manager of a restaurant in Louisiana. She says in November, she waited on a little girl and an older man. She testified that the girl had her eyes fixated on the man and the girl’s demeanor looked concerning and alarming.
The manager explained that she looked up missing children and thought she saw an image that resembled Aliayah. She contacted law enforcement, but says the girl looked like an older version of the 3-year-old and not the age progression photo released of her.
The state argued that there was no photograph of the girl in the restaurant or the man she was with. The manager said she tried to get a photo of the girl but she and the man were gone before she had the chance to.
Monday is the sixth day of the murder trial. Dyer has also mentioned earlier in the trial that it is difficult to prove a cause of death without the body.
The state rested its case on Friday after testimony from Lunsford Conaway's 18-year-old daughter.
Closing arguments are expected to take place after a recess.
For more information about the trial, you can visit the Related Stories.
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UPDATE: Lunsford defense attorney: 'We have no evidence of a cause of death'
UPDATE: Lunsford Conaway's ex-husband: 'We took bath salts' night Aliayah was allegedly struck
Day 4 of Lunsford Conaway trial: Defense explores connection between motorcycle gang and Aliayah’s disappearance
State rests in Lunsford Conaway trial