Court asked to consider merging murder trials

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Two charged with murder in beating death of 6-year-old

By Bob White



ELIZABETHTOWN — A hearing to consolidate murder cases against Danielle Marie Lucas and Antwan LaDale Hayes, the mother of 6-year-old beating victim Mar’riel Lucas and her boyfriend, has been delayed more than once. Prosecutors hope to convince Hardin Circuit Judge Janet Coleman on Tuesday that the defendants should be tried jointly later this summer.

“She’s equally responsible for Mar’riel’s death, so they need to be tried together,” said Leslie Lawrence, the victim’s father.

Lucas, 25, has given different accounts about the night their child died, Lawrence said.

“There are two stories she’s given — one she gave at the hospital and another she gave to police,” Lawrence said. “At the hospital, she said they were all home watching a movie and, after Mar’riel told them he could not use the restroom, they gave him a laxative. She said she went to check on him in and he was dead.”

The other story, as told by police and detailed in the indictment against her, is that Hayes, 22, was watching Mar’riel while his mother waited tables at an Elizabethtown restaurant late into the night of Aug. 28. Documents claim she came home around midnight to find her son suffering. She reportedly left the home with the only phone and vehicle available to call for help or transport Mar’riel to a hospital.

“She did nothing to help him,” Elizabethtown police Detective David Neary said in an October interview.

Hours passed until the mother returned and medical attention was sought for the dying child, according to police. Because of the boy’s low body temperature upon arrival at the hospital, some investigators speculate he was dead before he entered Hardin Memorial Hospital's emergency room.

From HMH, Mar’riel was sped to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville. He was pronounced dead at 10 a.m. Aug. 29. Hayes was arrested later that day on a murder charge.

A state medical examiner in Louisville who contributed to the investigation said Mar’riel endured a “heck of a pounding” the night he died.

Police say Mar’riel was gravely beaten by Hayes, with multiple blunt force trauma injuries being the cause of death. According to the indictment issued by a Hardin County grand jury, Hayes regularly abused the child throughout a six-month period prior to the boy’s death. Family members say Mar’riel feared the man who now is charged with his murder.

“I remember one time after he’d spilled something, he begged his mother, ‘please don’t tell Antwan,’” said Carolyn Carpenter, Mar’riel’s paternal grandmother in a previous interview.

Lucas is charged with wanton murder by causing Mar’riel’s death by alleged “failure to seek medical attention” for her child who “was in a state of extremis and dying,” according to the indictment. She’s also charged with criminal abuse for allegedly placing him in harm’s way by allowing Hayes to tend to her child. Lucas was arrested and jailed after she was indicted by a grand jury in October.

Hayes, who jail officials say was transferred from the Hardin County jail to a state facility for “his own safety,” is charged with murder for the alleged fatal beating of Mar’riel. He also is charged with criminal abuse for beatings he reportedly inflicted on the child from March through August 2007.

In a previous interview, Lawrence said he fought to gain custody of his child before, but was forced to settle for a visitation agreement typical for single fathers – weekends, holidays and summers.

Court documents show Lucas attempted to gain full custody of Mar’riel while Lawrence was stationed in Hawaii while in the military. Court records also show a domestic violence complaint Lucas filed against Lawrence in January 2007 after the father had words with Hayes about Mar’riel. In that complaint, Lucas said, “I’m scared he’ll take my son away.”

Mar’riel was described by neighbors and family as a polite, obedient boy who watched out for other children on his block – a “good kid” by all accounts.

The murder cases against Lucas and Hayes are set for separate jury trials Aug. 6.

Bob White can be reached at (270) 505-1750.