DESOTO COUNTY, MS (WMC) - A Mississippi father and stepmother pleaded guilty to the
Thursday morning in DeSoto County Circuit Court.
are charged with second-degree murder in the death of Tyler Raines. A jury will determine the couples' sentencing.
District Attorney John Champion says a jury could sentence the couple to 20-40 years or life in prison. At the time of the crime, prosecutors said it was one of the worst cases of abuse they had ever seen. The boy weighed 56 pounds when he died.
Larry May remembers the day he and his children learned Tyler wouldn't be around the neighborhood to play anymore.
"When we found out the news, it crushed my kids because everything just fell apart," May said. "As a father myself, I could never imagine harming any kid, much less my own."
Tyler's family members said it appeared he had been burned with cigarettes, beaten, and even branded. He died in the house he lived in with his brothers and sisters, all of whom are now living in a safe place.
"They still talk, every now and then, with the other kids and of course, they FaceTime them and Facebook and things," said May, who did not notice anything out of the ordinary before Tyler's death. "If I would have known, ain't no way I could have sit here and let it happen."
Both Jack and Amanda Raines remain in jail at DeSoto County Detention Center. A date for sentencing has not been set.