The man accused of killing a 4-year-old girl in Ellerbe on Sept. 28 admitted to lawmen that he beat her, according to court records.
Julius Juan Lilly, 39, of 3206 Ledbetter Road, Ellerbe, is facing charges of first degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, in the death of his girlfriend’s daughter, Reba Lynn Marie Ryan.
The court files show statements Lilly allegedly made to lawmen and others, and describe the severity of injuries which led to Reba’s death.
According to the indictment, Lilly “unlawfully, willfully and feloniously did intentionally commit an assault that resulted in serious bodily injury, laceration of the liver and subdural hematoma to the right side of the head on Reba Marie Lynn Ryan … At the time the defendant inflicted the injuries, the defendant was providing care for the child as boyfriend of the child’s mother.”
Events at the scene of the crime are detailed in paperwork filed by the Sheriff’s Office to obtain a search warrant for the premises on Sept. 28. An acquaintance of Lilly’s told lawmen that she received a call from Lilly asking her and her boyfriend to come to his house because something was wrong with Reba. She said Lilly told her he had “whipped” Reba and now she would not get up.
When the woman arrived at Lilly’s residence, Lilly showed her the belt he said he used to whip Reba and the woman noticed that Reba was bruised and no longer breathing, according to the search warrant request. She told authorities that she then gave her phone to Lilly to call 911.
In the same document, an investigator who saw Reba said that the girl had “bruising all over her body, head and face area.” The investigator reported that the child’s mother was on the scene and needed to go in the house and get baby formula for her 6-week-old child, and, once inside, the mother pointed out a tan belt on the back of the couch that she said belonged to Lilly.
The narrative said that once Lilly was taken into custody, “he admitted to striking the child.”
Following an approved search warrant, more than a dozen items were collected from the victim and suspect’s bedrooms, including the belt that lawmen found on the couch, hair from the floor and bed in the victim’s room as well as various bedding and clothing items, court files show.
A judge also signed an order to have the Richmond County 911 communications office turn over all 911 calls, numbers and records to the Sheriff’s Office that were made on Sept. 28 in regard to the homicide.
The court files show that Lilly’s next court appearance will be Nov. 13 in Superior Court, and that the case will be handled by prosecutor Dawn Layton.
Defending Lilly will be Charlotte lawyer Richard Culler, a court-appointed defense attorney who is qualified to handle federal and state capital murder cases, as well as all other serious felonies and misdemeanors.
Both Layton and Culler declined to comment on the case.
Lilly remains incarcerated, held without bond.
According to the North Carolina Department of Correction, Lilly has been convicted of crimes in Stanly and Montgomery counties and spent time in state prison. Lilly’s record includes convictions of assault on a female, wanton injury to personal property, misdemeanor breaking and entering and communicating threats in Montgomery County.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.