I have some interesting details to report today regarding the murder case of one-year-old twin baby, Zyaire Reed, whose mother is accused of failing to protect him while her boyfriend is accused of beating both babies, causing Zyaire’s death and severe injury to his brother, Zion.
James Gibson was arraigned on Monday, October 19 in the Third Judicial Circuit Court of Michigan on charges of felony murder and first degree murder in Zyaire’s death, adding to his existing charge of first-degree child abuse in relation to the injuries Lisa’s surviving twin, Zion, suffered in July. James was the live-in boyfriend of the twins’ mother, but he is not their biological father.
The twins were rushed separately to the hospital on July 28 after an emergency call summoned first responders to the family’s apartment complex in Ecorse, Michigan. Zyaire was found unresponsive on the hood of a car, while Zion was discovered shortly thereafter inside the apartment.
Zyaire was soon pronounced dead at the hospital; Zion underwent surgery for his injuries, which included a broken left femur. Both boys suffered severe facial injuries.
The twins’ mother, Lisa Reed, was charged with first-degree child abuse in July, but last week, she was additionally charged with second-degree murder. Lisa was arraigned on Tuesday before Judge David Zelenak.
When asked why Lisa Reed immediately faced a child abuse charge after the July 28 incident while James Gibson’s charge took longer to file, Ecorse Public Safety Director Joseph Thomas told WXYZ the standard for parents is simply higher. “Sometimes I think people forget that you can be with somebody, or you knew or should have known someone did something hideous, and you can be charged with a crime,” he said. He couldn’t release details about the case, but he added, “The parent of the baby didn’t do what they had to do to protect that child.”
The murder charges against both Lisa and James took some time to file because investigators were waiting for the medical examiner’s final report, which was completed last week. The medical examiner used a time-consuming scientific process to create a timeline of the abuse inflicted on Zyaire. Thomas said, “It took an expert in the medical field to say this is what happened to that child.”
Lisa’s family continues to speak out on her behalf. Her sister, Jennifer Reed, spoke with WXYZ, saying her sister, who she said is mentally disabled, loved and cared for her twins, who Jennifer said “never had a scratch on them until James Gibson came around.”
Lisa’s older children were not in her custody at the time of Zyaire’s death. They have been in the custody of relatives for years due to court rulings finding Lisa mentally incompetent and unable to provide adequate care.
When Zion and Zyaire were born, Jennifer said, the family tried to convince Lisa to put the twins up for adoption, but she refused and seemed to care for them appropriately, at least until James Gibson came into the picture.
Jennifer said Lisa met James at a court hearing after she was ordered into a mental hospital for incompetence. After James received early parole in May from a 13-year prison sentence, he reached out to Lisa for a place to say; Jennifer said she believes that is because James knew Lisa would be easily manipulated. “He targeted her because of his own manipulative ways and the fact that she is so naïve and socially and emotionally vulnerable.
According to Ecorse Police Inspector Tim Sassak, Lisa Reed allowed James Gibson, a convicted felon on parole, to live in her home against government housing rules, and that her failure to protect her children caused the twins immense suffering and led to Zyaire’s death.
Zion and Zyaire’s story has touched the hearts of many people. He has received multiple offers to foster or adopt Zion. “I had no less than 25 calls from people saying ‘We will take care of that baby,’” Inspector Sassak told the News-Herald. “We had an outpouring of love in the city from people willing to take him — including my own daughter. Two of our police officers were also willing to foster Zion.”
He said all of the investigators and medical professionals involved have been affected by the case, in which Zyaire’s death brought law enforcement into the picture to discover Zion’s abuse. “Zion’s brother died so he could live,” he said.
Inspector Sassak added, “I get updates on him about once every week. Zion is with a family who is taking good care of him. They have other children, and he is being loved. He is walking now.”
The next court hearing for both Lisa and James is scheduled for October 27. They are both being held without bond.
Sources: WXYZ, The News-Herald, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office