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Mother found guilty of beating, stabbing, and throwing 3-year-old off balcony gets retrial after nearly 10 years in prison

Image via Island Packet / YouTube (screenshot)

Shayla Jerea Bryan has been granted a retrial after she was found guilty of attempted murder in 2014 for beating, stabbing, and throwing her 3-year-old daughter off a balcony, according Yahoo News.

Bryan, who claimed "the devil came across" her, was convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison for stabbing and beating her 3-year-old daughter, Dionna Hagood, along with throwing the child from the balcony of a third-story stairwell.

The 24-year-old received the maximum sentenced allowed under South Carolina law and must serve 25.5 years before being eligible for parole.

However, after nearly a decade behind bars, Bryan is receiving a post-conviction relief process. In South Carolina, a PCR is not necessarily used to challenge a conviction itself, but rather "the general process surrounding the conviction such as counsel’s representation, the actions of the prosecutors, or other aspects of the criminal proceeding."

As such, Bryan's guilty verdict was overturned after issues were found with the previous trial. While a claim of insanity did not hold up during the original trial, Bryan's psychiatrist testified in March 2023 that the prisoner suffered psychiatric episodes while she was in the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Court documents stated that the doctor said that Bryan's attack on her daughter could reasonably be explained as psychotic break and a not a result of substance abuse, as she has had allegedly had no access to illegal drugs while incarcerated.

The Island Packet reports that Bryan could either be found “not guilty by reason of insanity,” which would put her under the custody of the Department of Mental Health, or be found “guilty but mentally ill,” which would include prison time along with a “psychiatric component” built in.

Court documents also alleged that Bryan was not properly informed of her right to a jury trial, as well as the notion that her legal defense was inadequate, as her lawyer was actually a real estate attorney and not a criminal attorney.

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