Ryan Lawrence pleads guilty to first-degree murder for death of his daughter Maddox

Ryan Lawrence, the man accused of killing his daughter Maddox in February and dumping her body in the waters near the Inner Harbor, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder./ Photojournalist Dennis Harmon

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Ryan Lawrence, the man accused of killing his daughter Maddox in February and dumping her body in the waters near the Inner Harbor, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Lawrence entered the plea this morning in Onondaga County Court. The plea comes with an expected sentence of 25 years to life in prison, and as part of the plea Lawrence waives his right to an appeal. The family of Morgan Lawrence, Maddox's mother, wants Ryan to admit his guilt as well.

Sentencing for Lawrence is scheduled for October 7th.

Lawrence was in Onondaga County Court this morning for a pretrial hearing. Shortly after that hearing began, attorneys from both sides approached Judge Anthony Aloi's bench. After the meeting the court went into recess and the parties left the courtroom. When the court went back into session, it moved on to other cases.

The plea comes nearly seven months after the death of Maddox Lawrence, whose disappearance and death shocked Central New York.

The search for Baby Maddox

Maddox became a household name in one of the most tragic cases in Central New York. Prosecutors say the 22-month-old was murdered by her father, Ryan Lawrence, at Labrador Hollow near Tully and her body disposed of near Syracuse's Inner Harbor in February.

SEE ALSO | DA: Maddox was a fighter, she beat cancer before her death

An AMBER Alert was issued for the father and daughter Sunday morning. Ryan would be found and taken into custody 24 hours later, sparking a search for the child's body across the Baldwinsville area. A body believed to be Maddox was pulled from the waters near the Inner Harbor 36 hours after the missing persons alert was issued.

Lawrence was charged with second-degree murder in his daughter's death the same afternoon. However, the charges against Lawrence were enhanced to first-degree murder and kidnapping on March 23. The announcement came only hours before his mental health examination was completed and he was cleared to stand trial.

Maddox had battled and beaten cancer before her death

During his first televised interviewed following the death of Baby Maddox back in February, Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick told CBS5's Michael Benny that Maddox was a fighter who had already battled and overcome cancer in her short life.

DA Fitzpatrick said Lawrence alluded to jealousy over the attention his daughter was getting as a possible motive in the murder.

He then addressed accusations Morgan Lawrence played a role in her daughter's death, saying the mother had no knowledge of or involvement in the child's murder. Fitzpatrick went so far as to say that if anyone accused her of having a hand in the baby's tragic death he would advise her to get an attorney.

CNY remembers Maddox

Following her tragic death, a memorial for Maddox quickly sprouted up near the site where her body was found.

In the weeks and months after the death of baby Maddox, the memorial grew to be a sea of stuffed animals, candles and other mementos for Maddox.

The memorial for Baby Maddox Lawrence still stands, though it is a bit smaller than it once was. Many of the older stuffed animals and items that sat there for months were removed at the request of Maddox's family.

Discussions are underway between the family and the City of Syracuse for what could be a more permanent memorial at the site. The "In Memory of Baby Maddox" Facebook page says her family hopes to have a new bench, a sign and plaque and an area with flowers as a memorial to Maddox.

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