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Press Release

District Woman Found Guilty of Felony Murder in Beating Death of Three-Year-Old Son

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia
Beating Took Place at Family’s Home in Southeast Washington

            WASHINGTON – Francis Lyles, 28, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty by a jury today of felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children in the beating death of her three-year-old son in June 2014, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu announced.


            Lyles was found guilty following a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The felony murder charge carries an enhancement based on the victim’s age and the cruel, heinous nature of the crime. Lyles faces a maximum sentence of life in prison with no possibility of release. The Honorable Zoe Bush scheduled sentencing for Jan. 8, 2018.


            According to the government’s evidence, on June 18, 2014, Lyles beat her three-year-old son, Xavier, for upsetting her newborn’s bouncer seat.  On June 23, 2014, at about 8:30 p.m., Lyles became upset again with her son, who had been running through their apartment in Southeast Washington. She repeatedly beat him with her hands and/or fists, causing multiple bruises and a lacerated liver. She used so much force that the child’s kidney avulsed from the urethral casing. Xavier lost approximately one third of his blood from internal bleeding. He vomited and was left unattended without food, water or medical treatment for about 15 hours.


            At about 11 a.m. on June 24, 2014, Lyles entered the child’s room and tried to wake him. He was not moving or breathing. Lyles first called her cousin and then called 911 for an ambulance. The District of Columbia Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services came to the residence, and Xavier was pronounced dead in the ambulance. The District of Columbia’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined that Xavier died from multiple blunt force injuries and the cause of death was homicide.


            Initially, Lyles led law enforcement to believe that her boyfriend had beaten the child when she left Xavier in his care. The boyfriend lived with Lyles and her children in the apartment. For weeks, law enforcement followed her information and leads. As the investigation continued, however, the prosecution learned that, contrary to her statements, Lyles was responsible for the death of her son. Lyles’s cousin had an app which recorded all of their incoming and outgoing phone calls.  Several calls were found in which the defendant admitted to having “whooped “her son on several occasions.  According to the medical examiner’s office, the child had more than 70 injuries.


            Lyles was arrested on Sept. 16, 2014, and has been in custody ever since.


            In announcing the verdict, U.S. Attorney Liu expressed appreciation for the work the Metropolitan Police Department, U.S. Marshal’s Service, and the U.S. Secret Service. She also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the District of Columbia Office of the Medical Examiner and the District of Columbia Department of Forensic Sciences.


            U.S. Attorney Liu acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys Laura R. Bach,  Michelle D. Jackson, Lindsey Merikas, Chrisellen Kolb, and John Mannarino; Michael Ambrosino, Special Counsel for DNA and Forensic Evidence Litigation; Forensic Operation/Program Specialist Benjamin Kagan-Guthrie; Victim/Witness Advocates Marcia Rinker, Jennifer Clark, Karen Giannakoulias, and Tracy Owusu; Liaison and Operations Manager Linda McDonald; Supervisory Paralegal Specialist Sharon Newman; Paralegal Specialists Kelly Blakeney, Mia Beamon, Alesha Matthews, Meridith McGarrity, Stephanie Gilbert, and Lornce Applewhite; Criminal Investigators Durand Odom, Tommy Miller, John Marsh, Melissa Matthew, Nelson Rhone, Mark Crawford, Shannon Alexis, Sharon Johnson, and Zachary McMenamin, and Litigation Technology Specialists Anisha Bhatia, Paul Howell, Jeannie Latimore-Brown, Joshua Ellen, and Leif Hickling. 


            Finally, she expressed appreciation for the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia G. Wright, who prosecuted the case.


Updated November 9, 2017

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 17-248