Mother sent to prison for failing to get medical help for 2-year-old daughter who died

An autopsy determined that Lyric Farrell died from complications of a head injury.

Shaniqua Leonard, of Whitman, was arraigned and held without bail at Brockton District Court on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020. Marc Vasconcellos/Pool

PLYMOUTH, Mass. (AP) — A Whitman woman has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and reckless endangerment in connection with the 2019 death of her 2-year-old daughter, prosecutors said.

Shaniqua Leonard was sentenced Wednesday to up to four years in prison. Prosecutors had sought up to 10 years behind bars.

Leonard was not charged with causing the child’s injuries, but prosecutors said the mother failed to seek medical attention for her obviously distressed daughter in a timely manner.

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Her attorney previously said there was no evidence his client caused the girl’s injuries and said Leonard did not seek medical help sooner because she had six other children to care for.


After Wednesday’s hearing, attorney Michael Tumposky said that his client had sought help from the state Department of Children and Families.

“She’s someone who asked for help around the the care of her child many, many times from DCF and she didn’t receive the assistance that she needed,” he told WFXT-TV.

But Plymouth District Attorney Timothy Cruz said that was shifting blame.

“At the end of the day this was about the conduct of Shaniqua Leonard, and her conduct led to the death of that poor little girl,” he said outside of court.

Emergency personnel responding to the family’s home on Dec. 28, 2019, found 2-year-old Lyric Farrell unresponsive, according to the Plymouth district attorney’s office. She was flown to Boston Children’s Hospital in critical condition, and died a few days later.

An autopsy determined that Lyric died from complications of a head injury.

Leonard told investigators that the girl had injured herself, hitting her head on the ground. But neurologists and other medical experts said the injuries were too severe for that to be the case, prosecutors said. One doctor said the injuries were consistent with a violent car crash.

In addition to her prison term, Leonard was sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to get a mental health evaluation and take parenting and anger management classes.



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