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Aunt pleads guilty to first degree manslaughter in death of Wilson toddler

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 6:38 PM CDT
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ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - A Wilson woman got 30 years in prison Wednesday morning after pleading guilty to first degree manslaughter in the death of her 3 year old nephew last July.

She’s one of 3 family members accused in his death.

Since her son was killed last year, Kyla Burgess has been concentrating on shedding a light on child abuse as her son’s abusers face justice.

She said now that the case is almost over, it’s gotten harder to bear.

“I’m happy my son’s getting justice, but it kinda makes everything sink in for me and kinda makes me have to deal with my son being gone, cause I really haven’t dealt with it,” Burgess said.

Shannon Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter Wednesday morning, and was given 30 years in prison.

She isn’t eligible for parole until 2046

Burgess said listening to Smith plead guilty was gut wrenching.

“When she said she pled guilty, the judge asked her what happened and she said she failed to protect her nephew and things got out of hand,” Burgess said. “I don’t wish anybody to know what happened to my son, but I can say if they knew... Out of hand and downplaying it like that, there’s no need for that. Because the injuries to my son can’t be downplayed. They happened, they’re real and that’s what caused his death.”

Police said James had bruises from head to toe and a fractured skull when he was found unresponsive last july...

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month, and Burgess is still fighting for the cause.

“No matter what you do, or how you see it or who it is, don’t let a child get hurt,” Burgess said.

“You never know if it will be the last time you see that baby.”

James’ fourth birthday is May 1st. Burgess said she plans to release balloons at her son’s gravesite.

“We’re gonna do a big balloon release,” Burgess said.”Tie notes to them and send it up to him.”

The boy’s father, James Darin Smith, has a hearing next week on Monday. The uncle, Frank Smith, is scheduled for Tuesday.

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