Mother of NC toddler pleads guilty in son’s death

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Kathy Lynn Swafford

SHELBY, N.C. — The mother of a 2-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in her son’s death.

Kathy Lynn Swafford, 22, also pleaded guilty in a Cleveland County court Thursday to felony child abuse. Judge Robert Ervin sentenced her to a minimum of 18 years in prison. She’ll get credit for three years spent in jail.

Attorney Fred Flowers said his client maintains her innocence, but told the judge she agreed to plead guilty because she felt it was in her best interest. Swafford’s trial was scheduled to begin next week in Lincoln County.

Dwight Stacy Justice, 45, was convicted in January of child abuse in the death of Jeremiah Swafford. Justice was found dead in a jail cell one week later. An autopsy showed he died of a brain aneurysm.

Credit: The Associated Press.