Judge to mother: ‘You failed him’

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 16, 2014

By Monique Roth

EDGARD — Tonya Victor, convicted of manslaughter Aug. 1 in the death of her 8-year-old son, had to be restrained by two deputies Monday as Judge Mary Becnel read her sentence before the courtroom.

“Little M.L. was dependent on you, his mother, and you failed him in the most extreme manner by not intervening in his brutal beating and ultimately by not preventing his death,” Becnel said, addressing Tonya directly.

Upon hearing those words, Tonya grabbed the paperwork she was shuffling through and a small bag of belongings in her possession and attempted to bolt for the door before being apprehended by deputies, who did their best to restrain her and calm her down.

Visibly shaking, Tonya started to yell at Becnel.

“I didn’t fail him,” Tonya yelled. “You not gonna tell me I failed.”

Tonya yelled, cried and was visibly shaking as she continued to proclaim her and her husband’s innocence in the 2008 death of M.L. Lloyd III.

Tonya said she did not want to stay for the rest of the sentencing, to which Becnel told her the law said she must be present at her sentencing.

“The law is fake,” Tonya yelled back to Becnel. “Where’s my husband? Where’s my babies at? You took everything away.”

When Tonya calmed down enough for Becnel to be heard, the sentencing continued.

“If anyone could have prevented this child’s death, it was you,” Becnel said. “You were the adult. You were his mother. You should have been his protector.”

Manslaughter of a child under the age of 10 carries a penalty of 10 to 40 years without benefit of probation or parole. Becnel sentenced Tonya to 21 years.

“Whatever the length of your sentence, I believe that at some point you will awake and begin to really feel your child’s death, no longer as your husband’s wife and defender, but as your child’s mother,” Becnel said. “And I pity you when that time comes, because I don’t know how you are going to live with yourself knowing that you could have prevented your child’s death.”

Tonya was sentenced separately from her husband Errol, which is in contrast to their trials where they each represented themselves in dual trial proceedings.

Errol’s sentence of second-degree murder carried a non-discretionary life without the possibility of parole.

Before Becnel read his sentence, she allowed Errol to address the court.

“We will fight this all the way to the Supreme Court of the Unites States,” Errol said of his and Tonya’s convictions. “We had a family tragedy … you have no business in our loss or tragedy.”

Errol sat down to hear his sentence after telling Becnel, “We don’t recognize your authority.”

Becnel then began to read her sentence.

“I agree with you that it is … a family tragedy for all your family, especially your children, but also for the Victor family — a good, respected family in our parish,” Becnel said. “It is a tragedy for your mother and your siblings and other relatives who are probably still wondering what happened to you — a son, a brother — to be involved in such a crime.”

Becnel told Tonya and Errol they have two years to apply for post-conviction relief.

Eight-year old M.L., Tonya’s son and Errol’s stepson, was pronounced dead at River Parishes Hospital on April 1, 2008, after authorities said he was severely whipped and beaten for taking ice cream without permission.

The Victors, who were arrested shortly after M.L. was brought to the hospital, vehemently denied abuse and homicide accusations for years, maintaining their innocence and saying the child died as a result of a severe asthma attack.

In mid-August the couple mounted several unsuccessful post-trial motions, including a motion for a new trial and a motion to delay sentencing.