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Lawrence pleads not guilty to murdering 21-month-old daughter

Syracuse Police Department

Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Lawrence, accused of killing his 21-month-old daughter Maddox, pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges in Syracuse City Court Wednesday.

Lawrence, clad in shackles and a forest green jail jumpsuit, mainly stared at the floor during the brief legal proceeding. He looked up a few times at the gallery which consisted mostly of family members. At times, he appeared to be on the verge of tears. 

Lawrence's not guilty plea means the case will now go to a grand jury. Speaking after the arraignment, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick said historically speaking, many child killers become concerned with attention the child receives, and that Maddox had recently been fighting cancer. 

"To add tragedy upon tragedy upon tragedy, this child suffered from an unusual form of cancer, from what Jeremy [Cali, Senior Assistant District Attorney,] tells me and from what doctor's have told him, she had beaten and was in the process of undergoing additional treatment for that," said Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick added that he doesn't know if any of that "high maintenance" played into Ryan Lawrence's mind.

The disappearance of Maddox triggered an Amber Alert on Sunday morning. On Monday, Ryan Lawrence was spotted by a bystander in the village of Baldwinsville. Police say he was wearing a disguise when he was taken into custody. On Tuesday, State Police divers located a body in Onondaga Creek near Syracuse's Inner Harbor, believed to be Maddox Lawrence.

Lawrence is currently being held in the Onondaga County Justice Center without bail.