Crime

Jury finds Lancaster woman guilty in child beating death. She’s sentenced to prison.

A Lancaster woman will spend life in a South Carolina prison after a jury found her guilty of killing her boyfriend’s daughter.

Kayla Cook, 26, was found guilty of homicide by child abuse after beating her boyfriend’s daughter to death in December 2017, said 6th Circuit Solicitor Randy Newman.

Newman had said for more than 18 months that Lillian “Lilly” Schroder, 3, was beaten to death in Lancaster. A jury agreed Cook delivered the beatings.

The child died from head and body injuries while Cook was the toddler’s caregiver, prosecutors said. Cook was the live-in girlfriend of the father of Lillian.

“It was a great job by our team of prosecutors and law enforcement,” Newman said after the trial. “I am thankful we were able to get justice for Lilly.”

The trial lasted a week and featured experts in baby injuries and testimony from Cook and her former boyfriend. The case was prosecuted in Lancaster County criminal court by Luck Campbell and Melissa McGinnis.

Prosecutors and police said Cook killed Lillian through a series of beatings and injuries that included a broken arm and internal bleeding. Lillian was bruised on her body and face, officials said.

Cook, who said in previous hearings said she has cancer, was charged with homicide 11 days after Lillian died.

Cook’s lawyer, Ross Burton, argued in the trial that started Aug. 12 that Cook was not the only adult who looked after Lillian, and the evidence did not show Cook was responsible for the child’s injuries.

Cook has 10 days to file an appeal.

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