Victors afforded better fate than M.L.

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It’s not over, but thankfully, we’re closer to the end than the beginning.

When a St. John the Baptist Parish jury returned two guilty verdicts Friday following the trials of Errol Victor Sr. and Tonya Victor, it brought a small measure of justice to the tragic news of the death of M.L. Lloyd III.

M.L. was 8 when he died in April 2008. Last week, a jury found his stepfather, Errol, guilty of second-degree murder and his mother, Tonya, guilty of manslaughter.

Thanks to the jury and the steady work of prosecutors Julie Cullen and Jonathan Blake of the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, this case reached a just conclusion.

The Victors did their best to create a sideshow defense while representing themselves and maintaining all along M.L.’s asthma — and not a vicious beating — was the cause of the child’s death.

The couple hired and fired 12 lawyers in the years leading up to trial and escaped justice for more than a half year by jumping bail and fleeing to Georgia.

Following a segment that aired on America’s Most Wanted, the Victors were caught in the spring of 2012. And Friday, following just over a week of testimony, the jury needed less than four hours to find them guilty.

None of this, of course, makes up for the death of M.L., who according to testimony, suffered from days of beatings at the hands of his parents that reduced him to a battered, lifeless body that medical officials testified could have been dead for a couple of hours before his mother and stepfather brought him to the emergency room at River Parishes Hospital.

Still, for some, there is doubt. The jury was not unanimous in its conviction of Errol, voting 10-2.

Belinda Parker-Brown, who was at the courthouse Friday, said she was the president of Louisiana United International, a Slidell-based civil rights group. She told L’OBSERVATEUR reasonable doubt exists, adding testimony from the victim’s father served only to arouse jury members’ emotions.

“What did he have to do with it?” she asked.

In the end, the jury’s verdict is certain. “Guilty” was heard loud and clear.

The Victors entered the courthouse in chains, and they left the same way. For a duo that maintained their innocence in front media members when leaving the courthouse, their certainty comes in the form of jail cells and years of imprisonment.

It’s a better fate than little M.L. was afforded.