CATAWBA COUNTY, N.C. – A Hickory man was found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of a 20-month-old boy in 2013.
William Howard Lail III, 30, was convicted by a Catawba County jury Tuesday for the death of Jaydon Sandlin in May 2013. Lail was also found guilty of two counts of felony child abuse against Sandlin and his sister Kylie Sandlin, as well as two counts of non-felonious child abuse.
Lail was sentenced to at least 17 years in prison for the second-degree murder charge and felony child abuse with an additional 300 days to be served at the end of his sentence for the other charges. Lail could serve up to 22 years for the murder of Sandlin.
The 12-member jury deliberated for 19 hours after hearing testimony from medical experts, as well as Lail and State prosecutors.
Court officials said Lail was a caretaker for the victim and his sister. Lail testified that he left the children unattended in a bathtub, where they suffered burns from scalding water. Rather than seeking medical attention, Lail chose to treat the wounds at home. Medical experts testified that the burns could not have been suffered the way Lail claimed.
Lail admitted during the trial that he was truthful about the boy’s death when he was initially interviewed by law enforcement, saying he provided multiple false statements, saying “I didn’t want to accept the fact I was responsible for his death.”
The children’s mother, Whitney Weathers, pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and four counts of child abuse inflicting serious physical injury in May 2017.