Christy Lamour arrived at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center early the morning of April 4, 2011, with the limp, swollen body of her 5-year-old son in the back seat.
Lamour told doctors, police detectives and social workers she thought her son had come down with the flu or a stomach virus. She explained away his bruises by telling them he’d fallen off his bunk bed.
But child abuse experts knew something more would have had to cause the child’s swollen belly, sunken eyes, fractured bones and bruises. Detectives worked through the night, questioning Lamour and her boyfriend, Che Hazell, for 13 hours before charging Hazell in Christian’s death.
Six months later, a grand jury indicted Lamour as well.
They both took the stand today, admitting to having disciplined Christian, but denying using the type of force doctors said would have been required to cause his death.
Circuit Court Judge Les Lilley said he didn’t believe them, concluding a four-day bench trial by convicting both of felony child abuse and neglect, child cruelty and second-degree murder. The two, both 30 years old, remain in jail without bond and are scheduled for sentencing Aug. 28.
An autopsy found Christian died from a blow that caused his bowel to tear, filling his belly with stomach acid and bacteria and leading to repeated vomiting, infection and severe dehydration, testified Dr. Suzanne Starling, a child abuse expert at Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters.
A few sutures most likely would have saved him if someone taken him to a hospital sooner, Starling said.
Lamour testified she didn’t realize how sick her son was, though his moaning woke her several times overnight, and never saw Hazeell strike Christian.
But Hazell’s 10-year-old daughter testified she watched as her father – infuriated that Christian wasn’t complying with a time out levied for throwing his plate into the sink after breakfast the morning of April 3, 2011 – punched the boy in the stomach as Lamour watched nearby. He collapsed, clutching his stomach, and threw up, she said.
For the next roughly 19 hours, Christian suffered, slipping into a pain-induced psychosis as his organs slowly failed, Starling testified. It would’ve been clear something was seriously wrong, she said.
But Lamour delayed taking Christain to a hospital, instead placating him with juice and Motrin, because she was protecting Hazell and feared a second Child Protective Services investigation into the boy’s treatment at home, prosecutors argued. The couple lived less than four miles from Sentara Princess Anne Hospital.
“This was a beaten child, there’s no question,” said prosecutor Katherine Orsini. “Christian suffered for 19 hours before he finally died at the hands of the people who were supposed to take care of him and did nothing.”
Lamour and Hazell’s defense attorneys argued the two had erred, but not criminally.
“There were a lot of bad decisions, absolutely, made in this situation,” attorney James A. Evans told Lilley during closing arguments. “You have to decide whether those decisions rise to the level of being criminal in nature.”
When Lilley announced his verdict, Christian’s father, Ashley Lamour, put his head in his hands and wept. He was overseas when Christian died and testified he last saw his son before Christmas.
Christian’s last meal was pancakes, eaten in his pajamas.