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Lee man charged in death of child

LEESBURG -- A Lee County man faces multiple charges in relation to the death of a two-year-old girl in a incident that occurred Friday morning.

Thomas Alan Darling, 30, appeared before Lee County Chief Magistrate Judge James Thurman Monday morning to hear the list of charges against him.

According to court documents, Darling is charged with felony murder, first degree cruelty to children, possession of marijuana (less than an ounce) and possession of cocaine.

Darling was denied bond Monday morning, said Lee County Associate Magistrate Carla Brown.

"It was his first appearance and bond has not been set because the magistrate court cannot address bond in the murder case," she said.

Darling will appear before in Superior Court at a later date for a bond hearing.

Darling's charges stem from the death of two-year-old Lila Grayce Newman whom investigators, responding to a 911 call, found unconscious and not breathing on the floor of Darling's residence on 121 Knollwood Drive in Lee County.

According to reports, Darling told deputies that the child was having difficulty breathing.

Newman was rushed to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital where she later died just two days after her second birthday.

Lee County Chief Deputy Lewis Harris said the sheriff's office turned over the investigation to the GBI.

Lee County Coroner Ronald Rowe said he sent the child's body to the Macon crime lab to be autopsied and the GBI is currently awaiting toxicology reports.

The toddler reportedly lived in Camilla with her mother, Candice Michele Smith. Newman's father, Robert Douglas Lyons, lives in Cairo, authorities said.

Funeral services for the two-year-old, who is survived by three other siblings, are expected to be held in Mitchell County Tuesday.