Conviction in Cape killings upheld

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to revisit the issue of whether death row inmate Andrew Lyons should have been found competent to stand trial for a 1992 triple slaying in Cape Girardeau.

In its unanimous, unsigned opinion, the court said Lyons' attorney raised no legitimate grounds for review. The decision marks the third time the court has refused to overturn Lyons' convictions.

Lyons fatally shot former girlfriend Bridgette Harris, her mother, Evelyn Sparks, and his son with Harris, 11-month-old Dontay, in their Cape Girardeau home on Sept. 20, 1992.

Lyons was initially declared mentally incompetent and sent to a mental hospital. In February 1995, a judge found him mentally fit to stand trial for the crimes.

A Scott County jury, hearing the case on a venue change, convicted Lyons of two counts of first degree murder for killing the women and found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of the child. He received two death sentences for the murder charges plus seven years in prison on the manslaughter count.

The Supreme Court upheld the jury's verdicts in 1997 and rejected claims of ineffective trial counsel in 2001. In the latest case, the court spurned the argument of Lyons' current attorney that his counsel in the 2001 appeal was ineffective for failing to raise the competency issue.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle said Lyons has most likely exhausted all his possible state appeals.

"All that's left now is a federal court review of it," Swingle said. "As a person on death row in Missouri six to 10 years, he's probably getting close to the point where appeals will be over with."

Lyons, 46, is incarcerated at the Potosi Correctional Center.

The case is State of Missouri v. Andrew Lyons.

Staff writer Linda Redeffer contributed to this report

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