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OKC Man Sentenced to Life in Toddler's Murder

02-Jan-2017

An Oklahoma City man accused of raping a 2-year-old girl to death has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading "no contest" last month.

Justin Williams Lawson, 24, was charged with first degree rape by instrumentation and first degree murder in September 2015, after his girlfriend's 2-year-old daughter died at a local hospital of injuries including a lacerated liver.

The child was rushed to the hospital because she was not breathing, and she died shortly before 1:00 p.m. Police reports indicate that, in addition to her lacerated liver, the girl sustained internal injuries consistent with sexual abuse. Lawson was reportedly caring for the girl when the fatal injuries occurred.

As part of a plea agreement, the rape charge against Lawson was amended to child abuse, which the plea paperwork describes as "physical, nonsexual."

On December 19, Lawson entered a plea of nolo contendere, or no contest, to charges of child abuse and first degree murder. On New Year's Eve, Oklahoma County District Judge Cindy Truong sentenced Lawson to life in prison for each count, with the sentences to run concurrently and credit for time served.

This means that Lawson may have the possibility of parole. For the purposes of parole, a life sentence is calculated at 45 years. Murder and child abuse are both violent crimes that are subject to the "85 Percent Rule." This means that Lawson must serve at least 85 percent of the life sentence before he becomes eligible for parole. Eighty-five percent of 45 years is 38 years and 3 months. Because he has credit for time served--roughly a year--the man could become eligible in roughly 37 years, when he is around 60 years old.

Learn more about Oklahoma Parole Rules.

To read about the potential changes to the state's 85 Percent Rule, click here.



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