In the end, Latisha Lawson was sentenced to 62 years for killing her 2-year-old son and battering her daughter.
“One child is dead, and the other may as well be,” Allen Superior Court Judge Fran Gull said to the 31-year-old Lawson on Friday morning during her sentencing.
Eleven relatives, including Lawson's grandmother, mother and 10-year-old-daughter, pleaded with Gull for mercy and help for Lawson, who they feel is mentally ill, instead of jail time. Her attorney asked for a five-year sentence for the murder of her son, but the state asked for a total of 73 years for all the charges.
Before Gull announced the sentence, she explained that the jury in May found Lawson neither innocent by reason of insanity nor guilty by reason of insanity.
The case began after Jezaih King's body was found late in 2010 in a plastic tote in a Fort Wayne home in which Lawson was living.
An autopsy determined the boy had died the previous year of asphyxiation due to compression of the neck. Testimony in the case from Lawson herself, as well as her and her roommate's children, indicated that Lawson was attempting to perform an exorcism by having the 2-year-old drink a mixture of olive oil and vinegar. During the trial Lawson admitted to placing her hand over the boy's mouth when he spit out the concoction but denied placing her hands on his neck.
She also admitted to beating her daughter with extension cords and pinching her until she was bruised.
“You had all the children kneeling in front of you when you killed your child,” Gull said.
Gull then explained death from asphyxiation takes 10 minutes.
“A large adult hand over the small face of an infant, it's a long, painful death,” Gull said.
As tears ran down Lawson's face, Gull gave her sentence: 55 years for murder, with four years for neglect of a dependant causing injury, 1 1/2 years for neglect of a dependant and 1 1/2 years for battery. The shorter sentences are to run consecutively to the murder charge for a total of 62 years.