COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A man was sentenced to 60 years in prison Friday for the 2008 murder of his 9-year-old daughter.
Richard Lyons was found guilty of thhe murder in January. Prosecutors said he beat, strangled and stabbed Mya Lyons before dumping her body.
Mya was found the night of July 14, 2008, by her father, limp and bloody in an alley near their home in the 8400 block of South Gilbert Court, according to initial reports.
Lyons told police that he rushed Mya to the hospital after discovering her in a weedy alley about 10 lots from his house after she'd disappeared from home.
What Lyons didn't say, and what police couldn't immediately know, is that he put the dead girl's body in the alley as part of a cover-up, prosecutors said.
"I would give anything to change places with Mya," her mother, Ericka Barnes said. "For the rest of my life I will feel the guilt that I wasn't there when Mya needed me most."
She called Richard Lyons a psychopath who should spend the rest of his life in jail.
Before sentencing Lyons to the maximum of 60 years, Judge Vincent Gaughan denied defense attorneys' motion for a new trail based on what they deemed an erroneous ruling that barred other suspects from testifying at trial.
"It would be a lot more comfortable if some stranger, some mysterious boogeyman, beat and stabbed and killed that 9-year-old girl," said Fabio Valentini, chief of the Cook County State's Attorney's criminal prosecutions bureau, during opening statements at Lyons' trial.
"Sometimes, the truth is ugly. The truth is [Richard Lyons] killed his 9-year-old daughter."
Valentini accused Lyons of trying to cover up evidence that he had killed his own child when he stabbed her repeatedly to make it look like a "maniac" had attacked her and then dumped her body in an alley down the street from his house.
The night she was slain, Mya stayed out well past her curfew, prosecutors said. When she returned home at about 11 p.m., Lyons beat her so savagely that he killed her or knocked her out so that she appeared dead, said prosecutors.
He stabbed Mya repeatedly in the back of his van and put her in the alley, prosecutors said, so that Lyons — "the hero" — could discover her a short time later and play the part of a devastated parent.
Defense attorney Andrea Webber insisted Lyons' actions the night of Mya's murder were those of "a truly upset father who rushed his daughter to the hospital to try and save her life."
But in January of 2011, more than two years after the murder, Lyons was arrested and charged with her murder after an independent blood splatter expert's finding offered new evidence.
The investigator determined that blood splattered in unlikely spots in Lyons' van suggested that she was stabbed inside the vehicle rather than elsewhere by an unknown attacker, as Lyons had claimed.
He proposed that a burglar broke into the Lyons' residence, encountered the little girl and killed her.
But jurors saw Lyons as guilty.
"This wasn't a stranger nor was it a maniac that my daughter happened to wander upon. This was her father. ... She loved her dad," Mya's mother Ericka Barnes said in January. "He is going to pay for what he did to my baby."