SC mother's homicide by child abuse conviction overturned - FOX Carolina 21

SC mother's homicide by child abuse conviction overturned

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Audrina Claire Hepburn (Courtesy: Ebel family) Audrina Claire Hepburn (Courtesy: Ebel family)
Audrina Hepburn's paternal grandmother honors the infant. (Dec. 11, 2013/FOX Carolina) Audrina Hepburn's paternal grandmother honors the infant. (Dec. 11, 2013/FOX Carolina)
LAURENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Pictures of Audrina Claire Hepburn are posted on the wall of the Ebel home. They still bring the family comfort and a mold of the 16-month-old's hand touches Rita Ebel's heart.

"She melted everybody's heart. We had 16 short months and we were blessed to have those," Ebel said.

Ebel said she always thinks about her granddaughter, Audrina Claire Hepburn.

"Everyday I speak her name, I tell somebody about her story, I talk about her, I wear a tattoo on my arm to remind me of her," Ebel said.

Back in October 2009, investigators said someone killed the 16-month-old and accused the baby's mother, Ashley Hepburn, and her boyfriend, Richard Lewis, of the crime.

"It's just not fair that her life was taken the way it was," Ebel said.

Investigators said Audrina died from shaken baby syndrome. They said she had a brain injury and bruises on her body.

"There were four adults in the home - how does a child get beaten to death and nobody knows nothing?" Ebel asked.

Investigators said the infant was killed at Ashley Hepburn's Cross Hill home in Laurens County. Investigators charged Ashley Hepburn and Lewis with homicide by child abuse and added aiding and abetting to his charges.

"We wonder everyday what her little voice would've sounded like, what she would've looked like," Ebel said.

A jury convicted Lewis on the aiding and abetting charge, but a state court overturned the conviction due to lack of evidence.

"I want to know who murdered my granddaughter," Ebel said.

And after appeals by Ashley Hepburn, on Wednesday, The South Carolina Supreme Court overturned her conviction too. Court documents state prosecutors didn't present enough evidence to convict in the case, so the court granted an acquittal.

"Until my last breath, I'll fight. I'll fight until my last breath until I get justice," Ebel said.

Investigators said Lewis was released from prison in July and Ashley Hepburn is still locked up at a women's prison in Columbia, but is expected to be released soon.

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