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Jury convicts mother and boyfriend of wanton murder in toddler's death

WAYNE COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) -- A jury has convicted a mother and her boyfriend of wanton murder in the death of her 17-month-old son.

Around 8 p.m. Monday, the jury returned with its verdict against Kayla Lord and her boyfriend, Jared Futrell.

The verdict came after around five hours of deliberations.

Lord and Futrell embraced one another after the jury found them guilty. Lord continued to cry and say, "Why is this happening to me?"

The victim, 17-month-old Staten Stephenson, died in 2011.

During testimony earlier on Monday, Kayla Lord said on the morning of July 16, 2011, she and her boyfriend woke up to find Staten unresponsive.

Lord and Futrell say Staten was choking and they tried to help, causing more bodily injuries. The prosecution said the young boy was bruised head to toe, calling it a pattern of abuse.

"He wasn't moving at all. He was just, just there," she said.

"Jared was on his knees, and had Staten in his arms like this," She demonstrated from where she was sitting on the witness stand.

She said she and Jared Futrell and his father, Rick, rushed the toddler to Wayne County Hospital.

Prosecutors maintain Lord and Futrell inflicted so much abuse on the toddler, that he eventually died of blunt force trauma. Yet their attorneys say he choked on gum, and efforts to save him eventually caused more harm than help.

She said his loss felt like "a hole, a hole inside of you, that is never going to be filled again. And he was my gift from God."

Lord said she made the decision to take Staten off life support at UK hospital, then held him in her arms as he died.

She said she told him, "Don't be afraid of Jesus. He's here to help you. Your mommy is here to help you."

The jury had five options: they could have ruled that Lord and Futrell were not guilty, or found them guilty of murder, complicity, wanton murder, or second degree manslaughter.

Both Lord and Futrell were kept in custody. The defense plans to appeal tonight's decision.

The jury recommended 25 years. They'll be formally sentenced on March 13. With this sentencing, the couple could likely be considered for parole after 20 years.


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