A Kyle woman admitted Friday to killing a 2-year-old boy she was raising in 2015 through physical abuse.
As part of a plea deal in U.S. District Court in Rapid City, Lori Ann Wisecarver, 43, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in Jayden Locke’s death Feb. 24, 2015, on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. She faces a penalty of up to life in prison.
Wisecarver, dressed as a Pennington County inmate, became emotional as she entered her guilty plea. In the audience was a relative of hers who declined to be identified but told the Journal she had long been waiting for justice in Jayden’s death.
Wisecarver, also known as Lori Vocu, was originally charged with first-degree murder, felony child abuse (aggravated battery of an infant) and a separate charge of felony child abuse and neglect.
Wisecarver, a distant relative of Jayden, became the toddler's guardian in October 2014 after his mother had lost custody of him and two other siblings because of drug use, according to a court document.
Wisecarver admitted to regularly subjecting Jayden to physical abuse, largely over toilet-training issues, said a statement that she signed Jan. 18.
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The cause of Jayden’s death was “multiple blunt trauma injury” including injuries to the head and abdomen, such as bleeding in the brain and intestines, the statement said.
The toddler also had burn-like injuries on his face, bruises all over his body at varying stages of healing and breaks on the skin of his organ, it said.
At Friday’s hearing, Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann said the prosecution has not indicated how much prison time they want for Wisecarver, but that Wisecarver has agreed to serve at least 20 years.
The judge noted that the final sentencing decision rests with the court. The date of Wisecarver’s sentencing has not been set.
Also detained at the Pennington County Jail is her husband, Mitchell Lee Wisecarver, 44, who also faces federal charges in Jayden’s death. It is not clear whether he is engaged in plea negotiations with prosecutors.