Cops and Courts, News

Judge denies Lunsfords’ request for a new trial

By Brittany Murray

WESTON — The sentencing for convicted child murderer Lena Lunsford will proceed July 2 after a Lewis County circuit judge denied her request for a new trial.
She was found guilty in April for the 2011 disapperance of her 3-year-old daughter Aliayah Lunsford, presumed dead by investigators, though the girl’s remains have not been located.
Defense attorney Tom Dyer sought a continuance, alleging the prosecution suppressed evidence. But Lewis County Circuit Judge Jake Reger denied the motion saying, “I think it’s time to go forward with this.”
Lunsford’s older daughters testified during trial that their mother struck Aliayah in the head with a wooden bed slat. When the toddler was unresponsive the next morning, the daughters claim Lunsford disposed of the body in a rural area.
Lunsford was convicted of murder, child abuse and concealment of a deceased body.
Dyer contends that State Police interviews with Dr. Mel Wright, a pediatric trauma specialist of WVU Medicine, were used in the investigation but not submitted as expert testimony during the trial.
Wright said the manner in which Lunsford hit Aliayah “may have” been the cause of death, but that it would be impossible to determine without a body.
Because Wright did not testify, Dyer said the bulk of the evidence presented was “circumstantial.
“We don’t have any evidence other than the story that’s related from the two sisters who are 9 and 11 at the time,” Dyer said. “We don’t have any evidence to a cause of death.”
“This is a trial of physical abuse. It may or may not be a cause of death.”
Dyer also argued that by not offering this information to the defense, Dr. Wright’s expert witness is “exculpatory evidence,” which prosecutors denied.
Lewis County prosecutor Christina Flanigan said Dyer consulted his own physicians during pre-trial that were not called as witnesses. Once Wright’s name arose during the trial, Flanigan argued that Dyer could have posed further objections about the discussions.
“I don’t think (Lunsford’s defense) was harmed in any way by that,” Flanigan said. “I think there’s different avenues he could have taken.”
Reger denied Dyer’s motion, stating he found that the state presented sufficient evidence to the jury.

Lunsford Conaway’s sentencing will be 2 p.m. July 2.