A Hickory man was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison on Tuesday after a jury found him guilty of killing his ex-girlfriend’s 1-year-old son.
A jury deliberated for 19 hours over five days before finding William Howard Lail III guilty of second-degree murder and felony child abuse in the May 2013 death of Jaydon Sandlin, the Catawba County District Attorney’s Office said. The jury found Lail guilty of an additional felony child abuse count involving Jaydon’s sister, Kylie Sandlin, and two counts of nonfelonious child abuse.
Superior Court Judge Forrest Bridges added 300 days to Lail’s sentence for the nonfelonious child abuse convictions.
The children’s mother, 26-year-old Whitney Weathers, was sentenced to at least three years in prison in May for allowing the abuse. She pleaded guilty as charged to child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and four counts of child abuse inflicting serious physical injury
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Weathers admitted that she and Lail secured the children in car seats and placed them in closets, often leaving them home alone when they went out.
Lail, 35, claimed he left the children unattended in a bath tub where they suffered burns from scalding water. Testimony from numerous medical experts contradicted him, according to prosecutors. He also testified that Jaydon drowned in the tub, but later admitted lying to police, including about where he found the boy.
Jaydon had severe bruising from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet – among the more than 130 injuries to his body, the district attorney’s office said.
“This is extraordinary when you consider the pain and suffering these children faced,” assistant district attorney Michael Van Buren said in court. “The state believes this course of conduct really amounted to torture.”
Defense attorney Vicky Jayne thanked the jury. “We respect their verdict,” she said. “We agree with their verdict. (Lail) has accepted responsibility for his part in Jaydon’s death and Kylie’s injuries. He will forever carry that burden.”