The mother and stepfather of 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers now face capital murder charges in the death of the little girl. The decision was made by a grand jury in Texas where Kimberly Dawn Trenor, 19, and Royce Clyde Zeigler II, 24, will stand trial. Prosecutors are deciding whether to push for the death penalty.
On October 29, Riley’s body was found wrapped in black plastic bags that had been stuffed a blue, plastic bin on an island in the Galveston Bay.
Police named the toddler “Baby Grace” because they did not know her identity. Riley’s paternal grandmother called police and told them that the drawing of the unidentified girl resembled Riley Ann.
Tampering with evidence and injury to a child were the initial charges filed against Zeigler and Trenor. Since then, however, police have found more evidence to warrant the more serious charge.
Trenor confessed to police that Zeigler beat her daughter with leather belts. Riley then was tossed across a room before she was held under water until she died. Riley’s skull was fractured in three areas-each one of them fatal. She was beaten for 4-6 hours.
Trenor says that the beating happened on July 24 because Riley wouldn’t say “yes, sir” and “please.” She and her husband hid her daughter’s body in a storage shed for several weeks before tossing it in the bay.
Trenor’s defense lawyer says that Zeigler wanted his client to hit Riley with a belt when she didn’t comply with his wishes. The beatings happened on the day he stayed home to make sure that Trenor was following his disciplinary plan. The couple supposedly did not intend to kill Riley.
Trenor says she wanted to call 911 but Zeigler wouldn’t allow it.
Capital murder is a very serious offense that can lead to the death penalty. Circumstances that can lead to a capital murder charge include murdering someone younger than 6 years of age, murdering a fireman or police officer, murder after escaping prison, murder while committing sexual assault, kidnapping, terrorism, or another capital felony.
Couple face capital murder charges in Baby Grace death, CNN.com, December 13, 2007
Mother’s lawyer: Child killed for failing to say ‘please, CNN.com, November 29, 2007
Related Web Resource:
Affidavit for Probable Cause of Arrest and Complaint (PDF)
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