A Lynchburg man will serve one year in jail for encouraging the abuse of a 21-month-old girl who later died. Prosecutors say Maurice Puryear encouraged the mother of Amarah Lane through text messages to keep the girl tied to a bed by her ankles so she can’t move at all. Puryear was convicted and sentenced today. The mother, Fantasia Lane, is serving 33 years for her daughter’s death.
On October 8, 2019, Maurice Tyrone Puryear was found guilty of the Class 1 Misdemeanor of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor for his role in the events of August 10, 2018 involving 21-
month-old Amarah Lane. Judge F. Patrick Yeatts sentenced Puryear to 12 months in jail, the maximum sentence for the offense. On Saturday, August 11, 2018, Fantasia Lane and her live-in boyfriend, Maurice Puryear, brought 21-month-old Amarah Lane to Lynchburg General Hospital. Amarah was listless, would not hold up her head, and she was noted to have multiple abrasions to her body to include her face, arms, and legs. Amarah was pronounced dead at the University of Virginia Hospital on August 16, 2018. Amarah’s cause of death was determined to be hypernatremia or excessive sodium in her body. Her mother, Fantasia Lane, pleaded guilty to Felony Homicide , Child Abuse Causing Serious Injury, and Child Endangerment on December 19, 2018. She was
sentenced to a total of 55 years with 22 years suspended.
Once Lane’s case was concluded, Maurice Puryear was charged on February 26, 2019 with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor for his role in encouraging the abuse of Amarah Lane. On August 10, 2019, Fantasia Lane sent Maurice Puryear text messages where Lane said Amarah fell out of a bed and hit her neck hard. Lane described Amarah as not moving and had been asleep for a long period. Puryear instructed Lane to tie Amarah back to the bed “but this time to her ankle so that she can’t move at all”. Over a 3-hour-period Lane sent text messages relaying Amarah’s condition to Puryear where Lane described Amarah as quiet, unable to walk, unable to lift her head, and in pain. Puryear continued to encourage Lane to tie Amarah to the bed by her ankles and said they would take Amarah to the doctor once their work schedules allowed for the appointment.
Puryear testified that the Commonwealth blew these messages out of proportion. He claimed he took care of Amarah and did nothing wrong. He said he never saw signs of Fantasia abusing Amarah. When he got home the night of August 10, 2018, Amarah appeared to be asleep in her dark room so he kissed her and left the room. The morning of August 11, 2018, he picked Amarah up, saw her head flop back, and that is when he realized something was wrong. Puryearargued that he did not willfully do anything to Amarah and did not believe Lane tied her up.
The judge disagreed with Puryear’s assessment and found that the text messages where Puryear repeatedly responded to the grave condition of Amarah with the advice to tie her up by the ankles, fit the prohibited conduct under the Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor statute. This case was prosecuted by Commonwealth’s Attorney Bethany Harrison. The defense attorney for Maurice Puryear was Aaron Pike