October 23, 1993
Dayton, Texas
Ronford Lee Styron (25) fatally punches his 11-month-old son Lee Hollace Styron

According to court records, Ronford was angry at his wife’s alleged infidelity and suspected Lee was not his biological child. Ronford focused the majority of his anger and aggression on the baby because of this suspicion.

The assault occurred “on or around” October 23; Ronford was unsure of the exact day. He took Lee to the hospital after, according to Ronford, the baby quit breathing as he was being fed. The symptoms Lee exhibited, including a swollen face and broken ribs, were not consistent with Ronford’s story and police were notified. Lee died of his injuries on October 28, two days after being admitted to the hospital.

Lee was determined to have suffered at least three distinct blows to the head, any of which could potentially have been fatal on their own. In addition to the injuries noted at the time of Lee’s arrival to the hospital, the autopsy revealed evidence of prolonged abuse: at least 10 broken bones and retinal hemorrhages consistent with multiple incidents of shaken-baby syndrome.

Confronted with the evidence of abuse, Ronford admitted to punching Lee in the face who “had not acted normally since then.” He added that while he had purposefully punched the 11-month-old, he did not “intend to kill him.” Testimony during trial revealed further abuse Ronford subjected Lee to, including dunking Lee in ice water, stuffing tape in the baby’s mouth to quiet him, squeezing his stomach three weeks before Lee’s death, and palming “his head like a basketball, holding him like a rag doll.”

Ronford was executed on May 22, 2002. During part of his final statement, he talked of Lee, stating, “I am going to go with my little boy and play with him.”

Ronford Lee Styron

Sources:
Crawford, Bill. Texas Death Row. New York: Plume, 2006
Graber, Shane. “Child-killer nears death.” Beaumont Enterprise. May 18, 2002. Accessed: October 23, 2019. https://m.beaumontenterprise.com/news/article/Child-killer-nears-death-757711.php
Ronford Lee Styron, Jr., Petitioner-appellant, v. Gary L Johnson, Director, Texas. Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division, Respondent-appellee, 262 F.3d 438 (5th Cir. 2001). U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit – 262 F.3d 438 (5th Cir. 2001)
August 15, 2001. https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/262/438/607857/
Covey, Marilyn. “Fed Judge Lifts Stay Of Execution For Man Convicted Of Killing Son.” Tyler Morning Telegraph. March 11, 1999
“Man sentenced for killing baby.” The Daily News [Galveston, Texas]. October 28, 1994

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