Case Update: Mother and Boyfriend Bound Over for Trial in Murder of 13-Month-Old Zyaire Reed and Abuse of Twin Brother, Zion

Zion and Zyaire Reed
Zion (left) and Zyaire Reed.
(News Herald)

Charges against a Michigan couple accused of beating the woman’s 13-month-old twin boys, one of whom died, were bound over for trial at a hearing on February 5 before 25th District Judge David Zeleniak.

35-year-old James Edward Gibson Jr. is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree child abuse in the brutal beating death of 13-month-old Zyaire Reed, the son of his girlfriend, 35-year-old Lisa Marie Reed. James is also charged with first-degree child abuse for severe injuries caused to Zyaire’s twin brother, Zion, who survived. James, who is not the biological father of the twins, has also been charged with two counts of felony assault of a prison employee.

Lisa’s charges include second-degree murder, first-degree child abuse against Zyaire, and first-degree child abuse against Zion. Both James and Lisa are being held in the Wayne County Jail without bond.

First responders to a 911 call on July 28, 2020 arrived at the Renaissance Estates apartment complex at approximately 5:00 AM to find Zyaire unresponsive on the hood of a vehicle. Unable to revive him, police and EMTs rushed the baby to Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. 

Police searching the apartment discovered Zion, who also appeared to be injured, and transported him to the hospital, as well, where the little guy underwent surgery to repair multiple broken bones, including his femur, hip, nose, and both clavicles, as well as bleeding on the brain. Both Zion and Zyaire suffered facial injuries, broken blood vessels in his eyes, and severe ear damage. Zion’s cheek and ears were also swollen, and he had a cut on his lip. 

James Edward Gibson Jr's mugshot
James Gibson’s MDOC mugshot.
(Michigan Department of Corrections)

After Zyaire’s death, when James, a career criminal, realized police had been notified of hospital staff’s suspicion of abuse, he took off from the hospital and went on the run. At the time, he had at least five outstanding warrants, including one for child abuse. He was located not long afterward by the Wayne County Violent Crime Reduction Task Force.

Inspector Sassak said, “They broke down every lead. They tracked him to River Rouge and to his dad’s house in Romulus. He was calling people saying he’s not going back to jail. They found him in Sumpter Township at his uncle’s house. He had been getting dropped off by members of his family.”

At the hearing on February 5, doctors testified that the boys suffered months of abuse at the hands of their mother’s live-in boyfriend, James Gibson. One doctor remained on the stand for six hours. Police officers also testified at the hearing. After the proceeding, Inspector Tim Sassak of the Ecorse Police Department told a reporter it took about seven hearings to reach this point in the case, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and partly because of the sheer number of witnesses and other parties involved. 

Zyaire Reed
Rest in peace, Zyaire.
(Facebook)

“Zyaire had 21 fractures in his ribs, so each rib had two fractures,” Inspector Sassak said, obviously emotionally affected by the boys’ injuries. “He had brain damage and facial bruises. Zion had 12 fractures in his ribs, a broken femur, and damage to the orbital area…

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

Inspector Sassak was disgusted by Lisa Reed’s unwillingness to take responsibility. “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.”

Lisa and James are scheduled for a conference on February 17 in Wayne Circuit Court before Judge Wanda Evans. 

Click here for my ongoing coverage of Zyaire and Zion’s story.

Sources: Wayne County Circuit Court web portal, The News Herald

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