ELIZABETHTOWN, KY (WAVE) - Mar'riel Lucas was 6-years-old when his life ended. Now two people are on trial, charged with his murder. WAVE 3's Janelle MacDonald was in the courtroom Wednesday as his mother and her boyfriend faced the jury that will decide their fate.
Hardin County prosecutors say Antwan Hayes severely beat little Mar'riel, and that his mother, Danielle Lucas, did nothing to get help for her son after the fact. Prosecutors say Mar'riel died from his injuries, and that both parents are to blame.
During an August 2007 interview with WAVE 3, Mar'riel's grandmother, Carolyn Carpenter, told us the 6-year-old could light up a room. "He would go up to you with kind words: 'I like what you have on. You smell good.' Or he would just rub you. 'You know my name is Mar'riel.' He'd say his whole name: 'My name is Mar'riel Lucas,' and just as proud as can be."
Prosecutor Jenohn Leshea Smith says there was a lot going on behind that bright face.
"When he got to school, he was sick, he was vomiting. But he didn't want to go home and he didn't want his mom," Smith said during opening arguments.
The episode Smith was describing was on the Friday before his death. Prosecutors say the following Tuesday, Hayes, who was in a relationship with Lucas, severely beat the little boy, ultimately killing him.
"He talked to him about hitting him, holding him down with his fist, spanking him. Little Mar'riel was running around the room, trying to get away from him," Smith told the jury
Shelia Kyle-Reno, who is representing Hayes at the trial, painted a different picture. "That little boy was Antwan Hayes' world.
Kyle-Reno says Hayes did discipline Mar'riel, but only because he was trying to do what was right.
"He worried, based upon his own background, that Mar'riel would not be the best that he could be," said Kyle-Reno.
But this case goes beyond allegations of abuse. At the table, right in front of the man accused of killing her son, sat Danielle Lucas, facing the exact same charges.
"I haven't heard a word yet, and you won't hear a word yet that Danielle touched Mar'riel in any way but a loving mother," said Ronald Hines, Lucas' attorney during his opening statement.
But prosecutors told the jury that when Danielle Lucas came home and found her son injured, she did nothing to help him.
"Mar'riel was never a priority to his mommy," Smith told the jury.
Lucas and Hayes are also charged with first degree child abuse. Prosecutors say Mar'riel had been beaten before the day he died.
Child Protective Services had investigated claims reported by Mar'riel's school in May, more than three months before he died. The case worker found the claims unsubstantiated.
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