(UnitedVoice.com) – Andrew Byrd was in charge of watching 2-year-old Harper Mitchell and her two siblings in April 2020 while his girlfriend, Amanda Mitchell, was at work. When the children’s mother returned a few hours later, she found her daughter unresponsive. The little girl was later pronounced dead. Byrd will now spend the rest of his life in prison for murdering her.
On October 6, Virginia Circuit Judge Josiah Showalter sentenced Byrd to two life sentences to be served consecutively and other prison terms ranging from 12 months to 10 years for six lesser charges. The sentence came after a Radford jury convicted him of eight counts in March, including possession of meth, aggravated murder, and child abuse.
According to evidence presented at trial, Mitchell returned home and found Harper bleeding and with bruises all over her. She said her daughter was cold to the touch and limp. She claimed she tried to call for help, but Byrd not only strangled her but also threatened to kill the other kids if she took Harper to the hospital. She told the jury that he put a gun to her head as well.
The next day, Mitchell claimed she was able to call Byrd’s mother, who called 911. Harper was rushed to the hospital, but her injuries were too severe, and she was removed from life support three days later. Byrd claimed the child fell out of a shopping cart, fell off of a four-wheeler, and reacted poorly to nuts. Police arrested him.
Dr. Amy Tharp, the medical examiner, testified that the injuries to Harper were so severe that it looked like she’d been in a bad car accident. Blunt force trauma to her head is what killed her. In addition to the charges against him for killing Harper, Byrd is facing charges for allegedly abusing Mitchell’s other two kids.
At the sentencing, Harper’s dad, T.J. Mitchell, sobbed and talked about how hard it was to remove his child from life support. Amanda Mitchell was also charged in her daughter’s death for drug possession, cruelty, and child abuse.
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