CROWN POINT — A Merrillville man was convicted of a lesser charge Friday after a weeklong trial on charges alleging he murdered his girlfriend's toddler in 2017.

Jurors found Lavoyd D. Shepherd, 34, guilty of voluntary manslaughter after deliberating about six hours, defense attorney Scott King said.

King and his partner, Lakeisha Murdaugh, represented Shepherd during the trial before Lake Criminal Court Judge Clarence Murray. 

Shepherd was charged in February 2017 with murder, aggravated battery and two counts of battery to a person younger than 14.

He was accused of causing the injuries that led to the death of 20-month-old Alena Ferguson after her mother, Lena Harper, put her to sleep Feb. 20, 2017, at Shepherd's apartment in Merrillville.

King sowed doubt in his opening statements, telling jurors Alena had been left in the care of various relatives during a visit to her father's family the weekend before her death.

Lake County Deputy Prosecutor Natalie McCandies told jurors Shepherd was the only person with Alena in the hours before her death.

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McCandies and Deputy Prosecutor Reginald Marcus represented the state at trial.

According to court records, police became suspicious after Shepherd left Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus in Merrillville while Alena was being treated. He gave police conflicting information about what happened to the child, court records state.

King said Shepherd likely will appeal the verdict.

A sentencing date was not yet listed in online court records.

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