HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – A Henrico jury took little more than an hour to return the maximum possible sentence against a man convicted of killing his girlfriend's young son.
Wednesday, the jury of 11 men and one woman recommended 50 years in prison for Kevin Lucas. It would amount to a life sentence for the 46-year-old Lucas, who fatally beat three-year-old Christianreid Stephens back in April.
Afterward, the boy's mother said justice has been served.
"His smiles lit up the earth for 3 years while he was here. And now his smiles light up heaven. And I will forever be sad in my heart, but I rejoice today," said Maria Stephens, through tears.
Stephens stood by her sister and finally said what she's been keeping inside all this time.
"I want [Christianreid] to know that Mommy loves you, your brothers love you, your family loves you, and that we have not forgotten you. You are always in our hearts."
Three-year-old Christianreid died in her apartment last April at the hands of Maria's then boyfriend, Kevin Lucas. Testimony revealed the boy's bruises were so awful, it was like he'd been in a boxing match.
After finding Lucas guilty of murder and child neglect, it took the jury just one more day to recommend the maximum sentence of 50 years.
Maria was grateful, but still missing that innocent piece of her family.
"It doesn't bring my son back. If I could have my son back just for one moment, for me to tell him that I love him," she said through tears.
Earlier, Maria testified one last time before the jury, saying "My heart has been shattered in a million pieces or more." She added, "I look at little hands, little feet, and I think, I once had those."
It was the kind of heart wrenching testimony that made parents think of their own children, and their little smiling faces. There was barely a dry eye inside the courtroom, or out.
"We stand today in the life of my son, and I'm happy that justice is served," Maria said, crying.
The 50 year sentence includes 40 on the charge of second degree murder and 10 for felony child neglect. Lucas sat there with absolutely no reaction to his fate.
Thursday's sentence amounts to a jury recommendation. A judge will impose the formal sentence on March 30th.