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Dad accused of drowning his daughter in Durham found guilty of first-degree murder

Posted November 26, 2019 3:04 p.m. EST
Updated November 27, 2019 10:40 a.m. EST

The man accused of drowning his young daughter over four years ago was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder in her death and guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

The trial for Alan Tysheen Eugene Lassiter, 33, began two weeks ago, during which his defense attorney admitted that he drowned Calista, his 3-year-old daughter, but argued that his client should be cleared because he was insane when the little girl was slain.

Lassiter was ordered to serve life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder charge and received a sentence of up to 15 years in prison for the attempted murder charges, which would be served consecutively with the life sentence.

Lassiter didn't show much emotion during the hearing, including when the verdict was read or when he learned he would spend the rest of his life in prison.

His attorney, Jonathan Broun, said the case highlights the need for more mental health resources to be provided to those in need.

"When poor people and others do not get the mental health treatment that they need (or) that they deserve, the results can oftentimes be disastrous," Broun said. "I think that’s one of the lessons of this case."

Police have said previously that Lassiter bound the hands and feet of Calista and her 5-year-old sister, with shoelaces and tossed them into a pond at the Audubon Lake apartment complex in Durham in September 2015.

The girls' 7-year-old brother had escaped and ran for help, police said.

An off-duty Durham County deputy pulled the girls from the pond, but 3-year-old Calista Lassiter died three days later.

Defense attorney Lindsay Bass told jurors in her opening statement that Lassiter has suffered from mental illness for years and was never able to get help.

Lassiter called 911 to report that his children were drowning. He told the dispatcher that he was having issues with pedophilia and had sought help from Child Protective Services, and the decision to remove his children from his care drove him to his actions.

The jury foreperson said jurors never wavered in their decision.

"It was disturbing evidence to say the least," she said. "I don’t think anybody that was on the jury with me was not disturbed on a very deep level as to what we heard. I think it would be even more impactful for members of the jury who are parents."

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