Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Riley Sawyers: Capital Murder Charges and Probable Cause

Galveston County District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk is going before the grand jury today to seek capital murder charges against the mother and step-father of little two-year-old Riley Sawyers.

Riley Ann Sawyers

Kimberly Trenor and Royce Zeigler are being held on the lesser charges of injury to a child and tampering with evidence, their bonds, $350,000.
When the couple was arrested Nov. 24, they were not charged with capital murder because the investigation was still under way and DNA evidence had not yet confirmed whether Trenor’s daughter was the body investigators were trying to identify, Sistrunk said. [1]
The difference between the Injury to a Child charge and Capital Murder is intent.

Kimberly Trenor

In a Capital Murder case, which the death penalty can be sought, prosecutors have to prove the defendants did "knowingly and intentionally" kill their victim. The maximum sentence for the "injury to a child" indictment is 99 years. The maximum sentence for Capital Murder, the death penalty. Prosecutor Sistrunk hasn't revealed if he will seek the death penalty against either defendant if the Galveston County Grand Jury returns with the Capital Murder indictments.

Royce Zeigler
Trenor's attorney, Tom Stickler, argues that "the death was an accident" therefore disqualifying his client from any possible Capital Murder charge.
“The facts here don’t support the ‘knowingly’ part,” he said. “When this case is completely discussed, the facts will show that.” [1]
The Affidavits For Probable Cause issued against Trenor and Zeigler reveal that according to Trenor on the morning of July 24th Trenor did "then and there unlawfully, intentionally or knowingly cause serious bodily injury to Riley Ann Sawyers, a child 14 years of age or younger, by hitting, holding her head under water, slamming her body to the floor." [2]

Trenor maintains that she and Zeigler spent at least 2 - 4 hours "beating" Riley. That she, Trenor, only engaged in hitting her little girl with a leather belt and holding Riley's head underwater while it was Zeigler who picked Riley up by her hair and threw her across the room, her tiny head hitting the tile floor. Trenor states that Riley was put "face first on her bed" and also "face first into the couch" but no mention in the affidavit of who it was who did this to Riley. According to Trenor, Zeigler gave Riley children's pain medication and that after Riley was dead, Zeigler laid a "purple towel" over the little girl's body.

In the end the autopsy showed that Riley suffered three skull fractures to the back of her head.

It was Trenor's statements that were used in both Probable Cause Affidavits, Zeigler is not mentioned as giving a statement. At this time both Trenor and Zeigler are being held on the same charges. At today's Grand Jury hearing Prosecutor Sistrunk has said he will ask the jury to come back with Capital Murder indictments.

When considering the charges and weighing the evidence we can't help but wonder if Trenor's defense of Riley's death being an "accident" will hold weight with the jury. An accident that lasted several hours and consisted of beating little two-year and eight months old Riley with leather belts, taking turns holding her head underwater. Pushing her face into her bed and couch, throwing her around the room, and whatever else that occurred which resulted in three skull fractures and a little girl's lifeless body.

Unlike Riley, Trenor and Zeigler will get to plead their case before a jury. If convicted of Capital Murder charges and the possibility of the Death Penalty, their attorneys will have the opportunity to plead for their client's lives.

On July 24th, Riley Sawyers had no one to plead for her life. The one person who could have, should have protected her was her mother, Kimberly Trenor. Now Kimberly sits in Galveston County Jail, her fate resting in the hands of a future jury.

The jury little Riley Sawyers never had.

Image []
Source - 1 -
Source - 2 - State Of Texas - Affidavit For Probable Cause - Kimberly Trenor
Source - 3 - State of Texas - Affidavit For Probable Cause - Royce Zeigler


Back to Front Page.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave your name/nic.
We've changed the comments section to allow non-registered users to comment.
We'll continue like that until it's being abused.
We reserve the right to delete all abusive or otherwise inappropriate comments.