Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Mother Found Guilty in Baby Grace Trial


A case that has evoked strong emotion across Texas, as well as throughout the United States, reached a conclusion for the first of two defendants yesterday. Most of my readers are familiar with the tragic story of "Baby Grace," the two-year-old girl who was viciously abused and ultimately murdered outside of Houston in 2007. Her mother, now 20-year-old Kimberly Dawn Trenor, was convicted in a Galveston courtroom on charges of capital murder and will spend the rest of her life in jail without the possibility of parole. Trenor's husband and the girl's stepfather, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, will be tried separately on the same charges.

Riley Ann Sawyers became known to the nation as "Baby Grace" when her body was discovered by a fisherman in Galveston Bay. Her identity was unknown for weeks, until the little girl's paternal grandmother recognized police sketches that were broadcast on the news. After a name was put to the broken body, the horrifying details of her death were revealed. During a day of "breaking" Riley in order to teach her manners, she was subjected to whippings with a belt, getting her head stuffed into a pillow, being held in a bathtub filled with cold water, and having her body flung against a tile floor. After attempts to relieve the symptoms she suffered from a fractured skill and other injuries over her body proved unsuccessful, the couple stuffed Riley's body into a plastic box for up to two months before dumping her into the water.

Trenor's defense attorney tried to paint his client as a young woman without family who was in a controlling relationship. The prosecution described a strong woman who had an active role in the beatings and who viewed her daughter as the one roadblock to complete happiness in her marriage. In the end, the jury took less than two hours to decided that, whatever the specifics of her personality may be, she was culpable for her daughter's death.

The story of Baby Grace and her last day of life understandably shocked and disgusted everyone who read about it. Still, Ms. Trenor received the legal defense to which she is entitled under the Constitution. If you have been accused of any crime, no matter how large or small, the attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help. Contact our Austin, Houston, or San Antonio office to discuss your case.

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