Second Trial

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2011

Appeals Court says mother deserves second circuit trial

By John Howell Sr.

The Mississippi Court of Appeals has reversed felony child deprivation conviction of Amy Marie Lenard and ordered a new trial in Panola County Circuit Court.

Leland was sentenced in 2008 to five years imprisonment with two suspended after her infant son, Aaron, sustained burns from hot bath water. Lenard’s former boyfriend, Shannon Caine was babysitting the child when he climbed in to overheated bath water on October 26, 2007.

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Authorities charged Lenard when she sought treatment for the child five days later. During the trial, defense witnesses testified that Aaron Lenard had initially “appeared only sunburned.”

Other witnesses described Aaron as having the appearance of being “severely burned,” according to the appellate court ruling.

Amy Marie Lenard testified that her son’s burns had been made worse with the application of an over-the-counter burn remedy.

Defense attorney Ralph Stewart Guernsey’s attempts to provide jurors with instructions relevant to his client’s defense, including consideration of the over-the-counter medication, were denied by Circuit Judge Jimmy McClure.

“We find that the circuit court erred in denying Lenard’s requested instructions,” Judge J. J. Carlton stated.

Assistant District Attorney Jay Hale, who tried the original case, said that his office was reviewing the appellate court’s ruling.

“I do anticipate retrying the case,” Hale said Wednesday.

Lenard has been free on appeal bond since her 2008 trial.