Shaniqua Leonard, 29, of Whitman was arraigned in Brockton Superior Court Tuesday morning facing manslaughter charges in the death of her 2-year old daughter Lyric Farrell back in December 2019.
She was taken into custody in Whitman on Monday.
Leonard was originally charged with one count of reckless endangerment in connection to her daughter’s death but faced upgraded additional charges after results were released from the medical examiner’s office.
According to testimony and statements presented by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Kenney, the autopsy results and report from the medical examiner found Lyric to have substantial blunt force head trauma, a brain bleed, optical nerve and retinal hemorrhaging.
The reasons offered by Leonard as to how Lyric was injured and as it was seen on the cell phone videos showing Lyric banging her head – were not comparable to the level of the sustained injury she experienced.
She died on Dec. 31, 2019, according to Kenney in a 3 ½ minute phone call to 911 EMS the night she was taken to the hospital. Lyric was found propped up on a couch wrapped in a blanket. Leonard stated in the call to EMS, which was recorded, that she didn’t think the child was breathing. Whitman EMS started CPR after gaining entry to the house and noted the six other siblings were fully dressed and wearing jackets.
Leonard offered explanations and videos from her cell phone which were later obtained by the State police to offer an account of the 2-year old banging her own head on the floor and giving reasons such as: the child hurt herself causing her own head trauma.
Kenney entering the statements and interviews with doctors and specialists who treated Lyric that the amount of trauma she sustained was comparable to a severe car accident.
There were various levels of bruising, healing and scratches on the child’s back and between her shoulders, which did not match statements Leonard made regarding the child’s causing self injury and contradicted testimony made by the six other children.
Sharon Farrell, Lyric’s grandmother, and her sister Laura, Lyric’s great aunt, sat in the proceedings. They made a brief, joint statement outside the court.
“We are just happy that there has been a charge brought forth in this and we are hoping this continues and we will get justice for her. We were favored. We are impressed… we are happy that they are keeping her (Leonard)… and we are waiting for justice for Lyric after that we are going to see if we can get justice with DCF.
“They should have never gave Lyric back to her mother, “ said her grandmother Sharon Farrell who wore a silver heart necklace and a purple shirt with Lyric’s smiling face.
“Her smile. Her smile and she was a sweet, sweet girl,” Sharon Farrell said. This is how she remembers her granddaughter.
Lyric lived with her grandmother up until two weeks before the 2019 holidays when DCF returned her to Leonard – who biologically had six other children. She had lost and regained custody of all of the children just months prior to Lyrics death. Lyric was the last child placed back with Leonard. The children ranged in ages of 12 down to year old twins.
Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz had requested a $100,000 cash bail on Leonard in connection with the updated charges. GPS monitoring, no contact with any of her children, mental health counseling, and no possession of a firearm were among the stipulations requested by the Commonwealth.
In the serious concern of Leonard being a flight risk, which the judge took into consideration in his final decision, it was apparent she had tried to travel to California and had contacted family in Mississippi the very night of Lyric’s trauma transport resulting in her death two days later.
Michael Tumposky, Leonard’s defense attorney, argued that she has stayed in compliance with all of the court imposed conditions of her release for the past 7 months on $2500 bail, and did not attempt to leave or see any family out of state.
“If there was any intent or ability on her part to flee while she was out on $2500 cash bail possibly looking at a murder charge she would’ve done so,” he stated.
Leonard was present in the court and she pled not guilty to manslaughter and not guilty to reckless endangerment of a child.
The imposed bail for Leonard on Tuesday was $25,000 cash bail and no contact direct or indirect with any of her biological children.
The children were taken away from Leonard’s custody nearly eight months ago. The children have been placed in foster homes, are receiving therapy and are in place for adoption, according to Kenney.
Leonard is due to appear in Plymouth Court in September.