First week of Lena Lunsford trial ends with state resting


Lena Lunsford’s trial in the alleged 2011 death of her daughter Aliayah hit the halfway point Sunday morning when the state rested its case in Lewis County. 

The trial began in earnest on Monday morning, and started with a big moment, as prosecutors called one of Lena Lunsford’s daughters to the stand.

She had come forward in October 2016 to say she saw Lena Lunsford hit Aliayah Lunsford in the head with a broken bed slat the night before her disappearance was reported.

She said Lena Lunsford never got help for Aliayah, then found her dead the next morning and took her body out to the woods near Vadis.

On Tuesday, prosecutors called investigators from the FBI, state police and sheriff’s department to testify.  All of them said something, whether it was Lena’s testimony or her demeanor, didn’t add up for a mother whose daughter had just gone missing.

Jurors then heard from Lena Lunsford’s then-husband Ralph Lunsford, who said he never saw Aliayah get injured.  He added that he was not home in the morning, when Lena Lunsford said she was searching for Aliayah in the neighborhood.

On Thursday, jurors heard testimony from neighbors who said that they were home the morning Aliayah disappeared, and they never saw anyone searching for a child that morning, something Lena Lunsford said she was doing at the time.

Finally on Friday, prosecutors heard from Kiara Cole, Lena Lunsford’s eldest daughter, who said she didn’t see her mother hit Aliayah, but she did hear the impact.  Cole said she was with her mother the next morning when Lena Lunsford took Aliayah’s body to Vadis.

Throughout the week, defense attorneys have stressed that Aliayah’s body was never found, so no cause of death can be determined, or even if Aliayah is actually dead. Prosecutors rested their case on Friday, so the trial will pick up with the defense on Monday, when Judge Jake Reger expects to send the case to the jury.

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