Heather Marie Lawson, age 23, has been sentenced to life in prison for the killing of her 7 month old daughter, Addyson Tuckus. Circuit Court Judge R. Knox McMahon imposed the sentence following Lawson’s trial this week on the homicide by child abuse charge. The jury returned a verdict of guilty after hearing testimony for three days. Lawson will not be eligible for parole.
Eleventh Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard stated, “The tragic death of this 7 month old baby is heartbreaking. It’s our responsibility to make sure her death doesn’t go unpunished. Our office has worked tirelessly over the years to bring murderers like Lawson to justice while giving a voice to our voiceless.” Hubbard further commented, “This conviction is yet another example of what we can accomplish when our prosecutors and law enforcement work together for justice. Lawson will spend the rest of her life in prison – this is what justice looks like in Lexington County.”
On the afternoon of June 26, 2016, Lexington County Emergency Medical Services were called to the home of Heather Lawson at 157 Weaver Drive. First responders found Addyson lifeless with large areas of bruising to her head. The infant was pronounced dead shortly after her arrival at Lexington Medical Center. An autopsy conducted by a forensic pathologist, Dr. Janice Ross of Newberry, determined that Addyson died as a result of blunt force trauma due to repeated blows to her head. Detective Adam Creech and Sgt. Traci Barr, of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department Special Victims Unit, immediately obtained a search warrant for Lawson’s home and began the process of obtaining statements from Lawson. Over the course of several interviews, Lawson’s explanation changed regarding the source and cause of Addyson’s head injuries. Lawson was the only adult caregiver with Addyson during the time period of her death.
Evidence recovered from Lawson’s phone by CSI Detective Mike Phipps confirmed that Lawson was home with Addyson throughout the day. Dr. Ross testified that multiple impact injuries were observed on Addyson’s forehead, the top of her head, the crown area, and the base of her skull. The forensic pathologist further explained that such injuries are consistent with the use of a blunt instrument, such as a fist, and that the injuries were sustained contemporaneously with one another resulting in swelling of the brain.
During the sentencing hearing, Judge McMahon reviewed photographs of Addyson’s injuries and stated, “I am taking into account the totality of the circumstances – that a 7 month old child is totally defenseless and helpless.” He then sentenced Lawson to life without the possibility of parole.
The case was prosecuted by Eleventh Circuit Deputy Solicitor Suzanne Mayes and Assistant Solicitor Robby McNair. This case marks the sixth jury trial conviction for felony child abuse in the Eleventh Circuit since January. Mayes and McNair stated, “We are grateful for the excellent investigative work conducted by Detective Creech and Sgt. Barr. The evidence and key statements they obtained during the first 24 hours proved to be essential in this case.”
Lawson is being transferred to the S.C. Department of Corrections to begin her sentence immediately.