(USNewsMag.com) – Andrew Byrd, 37, has been sentenced to two life sentences after being found guilty in March of the murder of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter, Harper Mitchell.
Byrd was convicted by a Virginia jury on eight counts, including charges of aggravated murder and aggravated malicious wounding related to the 2020 murder of Harper.
Byrd had been watching Harper as well as her two siblings on April 16 at his home in Roanoke while their mother, Amanda Mitchell, was working. When Mitchell returned from work, she found Harper limp, bruised, and cold. Byrd refused to allow her to call for help, with Mitchell testifying that he threatened to kill the other children and strangle her if she attempted to get help for Harper.
During sentencing, Commonwealth Attorney Chris Rehak told the judge that Byrd only cared about “getting high” and showed no concern for the child he had wounded.
The following morning, Mitchell called Byrd’s mother, who called 911. Though she was hospitalized, she was taken off life support after three days.
During her testimony, medical examiner Dr. Amy Tharp stated that Harper’s injuries were so severe that it appeared as though she had been in a severe car wreck. Harper’s cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head, according to Tharp.
During sentencing, Rehak said that Byrd is a “dangerous, violent liar,” adding that a life sentence for him would be “probably too kind and too much mercy.
Rehak stated that the “defendant tortured that poor little girl.”
Harper’s father, TJ Mitchell, told the judge how much he missed her and how taking her off life support had been difficult.
Before sentencing Byrd to two life sentences, Circuit Judge Joey Showalter stated that nobody should be hurt, “let alone a little girl.”
Her mother is still facing charges for child abuse, cruelty, and drug possession. Byrd also faces charges related to the alleged abuse of Amanda Mitchell’s other children.
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