An application to seek the death penalty in the case of Julius Juan Lilly has been filed by the District Attorney’s office, according to court records.
The 39-year-old Ellerbe man is facing charges of first degree murder and felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, in the September death of his girlfriend’s daughter, 4-year-old Reba Lynn Marie Ryan.
According to court documents filed by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, an acquaintance of Lilly’s told investigators that she received a call from Lilly on Sept. 28 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 that the child would not get up, lawmen said.
A detective’s narrative from the court records said that once Lilly was taken into custody, “he admitted to striking the child.”
An Oct. 11 court document requested a pre-trial conference for Lilly in which the state will seek capital punishment in the case.
The document, signed by prosecutor Dawn M. Layton, said that Lilly “has been indicted for first degree murder and felonious child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, which is a crime punishable by death, and Rule 24 mandates a hearing in such cases.”
As part of the application, the state references N.C. General Statute 15A-2004, which mandates that “the State, in its discretion, may elect to try a defendant capitally or noncapitally for first degree murder, even if evidence of an aggravating circumstance exists. The State may agree to accept a sentence of life imprisonment for a defendant at any point in the prosecution of a capital felony, even if evidence of an aggravating circumstance exists.”
The application for Rule 24 also requested that the court schedule the pre-trial conference within 45 days.
On Friday, Layton declined to comment on the case, and phone calls made to Lilly’s court-appointed defense attorney Richard Culler were not returned.
The court files show that Lilly’s next court appearance will be on Nov. 13 in Superior Court.