Mom in baby death lost custody of other kids
Before she was accused of child abuse in the death of her month-old daughter in Parachute, Phyllis Wyatt lost custody of her older children in California and once threatened to kill her family by burning her house down, according to a motion filed by the Ninth Judicial District Attorney’s office.
The prosecution’s motion was a response to an attempt by defense attorney Kathy Goudy to reduce Wyatt’s bond, which was initially set at $300,000 and later reduced to $100,000. Citing Wyatt’s flight from Colorado after her daughter’s death, lack of local connections or employment, the severity of the charge and “history of mental illness,” the District Attorney’s Office opposed a further reduction in bond.
Wyatt and her partner Matthew Ogden’s daughter, Sarah, died June 20 at Grand River Hospital in Rifle after emergency workers were called to their Parachute apartment. The case was ruled a homicide when an autopsy revealed two potentially fatal wounds — a skull fracture and liver injuries.
The couple fled and were arrested in Minnesota.
Ogden, 29, is being held without bond and faces charges of first-degree murder of a child by a person in a position of trust, a first-degree felony that could carry the death penalty. He also is charged with child abuse causing death, a second-degree felony; and two counts child abuse causing serious bodily injury, a third-degree felony.
Wyatt, 41, faces charges of criminally negligent child abuse causing death, a third-degree felony that carries a range of four to 12 years in prison.
“It appears that Colorado’s marijuana laws and, also, her previous history with social services in California were a driving factor for the relocation” to Colorado from California, the prosecution motion said. “Defendant and Mr. Ogden were hoping that by coming to Colorado they would not immediately lose custody of the twins.”
The arrest affidavits in the case say that Sarah woke up crying that night in June and Ogden grabbed her. Wyatt told authorities that she heard screaming and pounding sounds, but didn’t get out of bed.
Sarah’s twin brother was unhurt and taken into protective custody.
When Wyatt, 41, appeared for her bond hearing on Friday morning, Goudy expressed reservations about discussing the issue in open court and pushed for the district attorney’s motion to be sealed. The DA’s motion, she contended, contained private information carried over from a separate custody case for Sarah’s twin brother.
Judge John Neiley agreed to discuss the matter in chambers, but ultimately denied the attempt to have the document sealed.
The bond hearing was subsequently rescheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
Goudy later told the Post Independent that her next response will attempt to bring the District Attorney’s assertions into context.
“I think there are some other sides, and that it’s not as monstrous as it appears in that affidavit. She’s charged with an omission — failure to protect — not an action that she took against the baby,” she said. “They were in there monitoring this couples and these babies, and there was not a problem until, basically the night the baby died.”
Specifically, she asserted that, while a cord blood test for the twins was positive for marijuana, Wyatt went off all other controlled psychotropic substance, prescription and otherwise, for the duration of her pregnancy.
Goudy she also addressed Wyatt’s past loss of custody.
“It’s not that she did something to them,” she said. “I think it sometimes is a struggle for Amy to take care of Amy.”
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