Autistic mom & boyfriend face trial for murder after boy, 1, dies & twin brother left with broken bones & blood in eyes

AN AUTISTIC mother and her boyfriend are facing a murder trial after a boy, 1, died and his twin brother was left with severely broken bones. 

James Edward Gibson Jr. and Lisa Marie Reed, both of Ecorse, are accused of abusing 13-month-old twin boys, Zyaire and Zion.

Gibson, 35, is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of Zyaire Reed, first-degree child abuse for injuries to his brother, Zion, and two counts of felony arrest for fighting with police officers.

He is not the father of the children.

Reed, 35, is charged with second-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the death of Zyaire, and first degree child abuse against Zion.

Police responded to a report of child abuse on July 28 and found the twin boys seriously injured.

Zyaire died that day after suffering what doctors testified to be months of abuse.

His brother, Zion, also was hospitalized that same day.

Reed was arrested and charged with first degree child abuse, while her boyfriend fled.

Gibson was later caught at a relative’s home and also charged with first degree child abuse.

A police spokesman said at the time it was “worst” case of child abuse he’d ever seen.

Inspector Timothy Sassak told WXYZ: “There was some trauma to the child’s face and head area, ears, stuff like that,”

“You have one child that is deceased, and one child obviously being abused and having those injuries.”

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen.”

Zion underwent surgery at Children’s Hospital to repair broken bones and other injuries.

Detectives said at the time that Gibson beat both boys severely.

Family members told CrimeOnline that Reed is a high-functioning autistic mother and that Gibson manipulated her.

Her sister, Jennifer Reed, said: “The picture is being over shadowed with emphasis on a mother that probably didn’t know how to respond due to her mental and emotional abilities – in such a an overwhelmingly emotional situation."

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said: “The evidence in this case will show that Zyaire Reed suffered abuse for almost half of his very young life.”

“He was 13-months-old when he died. The alleged facts of this case left seasoned prosecutors shaking their heads and vowing to seek justice for him.”

Both Gibson and Reed will continue to be held without bond, ahead of their trial before 25th District Court Judge David Zelenak.

An arraignment on the information for Reed and Gibson is set for Feb. 10 in Wayne County Circuit Court.

Ecorse Inspector Tim Sassak said it took about seven hearings to finally get to this point, due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and the number of witnesses and attorneys.

The inspector said: “Zyaire had 21 fractures in his ribs, so each rib had two fractures."

"He had brain damage and facial bruises. Zion had 12 fractures in his ribs, a broken femur and damage to the orbital area.”

There also was severe damage to the children’s ears.

Along with Sassak, residents, police officers and doctors testified. One doctor was on the stand for six hours.

Sassak described it as “gut wrenching.” 

“I’ve seen a lot of injuries in my 32 years, but this just made me sick to my stomach. There also was a lot of video and medical testimony.”

What was also difficult to stomach, he said, was some of Reed’s comments.

Sassak said: “Her defense was, ‘I didn’t do any of it."

“She brought a rattlesnake into her home. Eventually a rattlesnake is going to bite. She was supposed to protect them, but she was still kind of defending him, saying he’s a good guy.”

Reed has four children, but only had custody of the twins.

Ecorse police have received about 25 calls from people offering to adopt Zion, including Sassak’s own daughter.

Two police officers also offered to foster the child. 

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