LYNCHBURG, Va. – A judge found a Lynchburg man guilty for his involvement in the death of a 21-month-old girl.
On Tuesday, Judge F. Patrick Yeatts found Maurice Tyrone Puryear guilty of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in connection with the Aug. 16, 2018, death of Amarah Lane.
Puryear is the second adult now serving prison time for involvement in the girl's death.
A few days after Amarah's death, Puryear spoke with 10 News about this case.
On Dec. 19, 2018, Amarah's mother, Fantasia Lane, pleaded guilty to felony homicide, child abuse causing serious injury and child endangerment. She is currently serving an active sentence of 33 years in prison.
On Aug. 11, 2018, Fantasia Lane and Puryear, her live-in boyfriend, brought Amarah to Lynchburg General Hospital.
Amarah was listless, would not hold up her head and was noted to have multiple abrasions to her body, including on her face, arms and legs, according to Lynchburg Commonwealth's Attorney Bethany Harrison.
Five days later, Amarah was pronounced dead at the University of Virginia Hospital. Amarah's cause of death was determined to be hypernatremia, or excessive sodium in her body.
Puryear was charged on Feb. 26 with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for his role in encouraging the abuse of Amarah.
The day before Amarah was admitted to the hospital, Fantasia Lane sent Puryear text messages in which she said that Amarah fell out of a bed and hit her neck hard, according to Harrison.
Harrison described the chain of text messages between the two:
- Over a three-hour period, Lane sent texts relaying Amarah's condition to Puryear in which she described Amarah as quiet, unable to walk, unable to lift her head and in pain.
- Puryear instructed her to tie Amarah back to the bed "but this time to her ankle so that she can't move at all."
- He continued to encourage Lane to tie Amarah to the bed by her ankles and said they would take Amarah to the doctor once their work schedules allowed for the appointment.
In court Tuesday, Puryear testified that the prosecution blew these messages out of proportion.
He claimed that he took care of Amarah and did nothing wrong and that he never saw signs of Fantasia abusing Amarah.
When he got home the night of Aug. 10, 2018, Amarah appeared to be asleep in her dark room, so he kissed her and left the room.
The next morning, when he picked her up, he saw her head flop back, which is when he realized something was wrong, according to Harrison.
Puryear argued that he did not willfully do anything to Amarah and did not believe Lane tied her up.
The judge disagreed with Puryear's testimony and found that his texts fit the prohibited conduct under the contributing to the delinquency of a minor statute.
Yeatts sentenced Puryear to a year in jail, the maximum sentence for the charge.
A loved one released a statement to 10 News on behalf of Amarah Lane's family:
"The family was not aware of the sentence of Mr. Maurice Puryear today. It does not bring peace, still, to the family. Amarah would have been three next week. The family continues to heal daily in her passing. We would like for the community to continue to pray"
-- Kenyatta "Yaya" Spencer, on behalf of Amarah Lane's family