Parents of slain Baby Sarah in Colorado court
Matthew Ogden and Phyllis Wyatt are back in Colorado to face charges stemming from the killing of their month-old daughter.
After fleeing to Minnesota and being caught there, they were booked Wednesday night at the Garfield County Jail and appeared in court on Thursday afternoon.
Ogden is being held without bond, and Deputy District Attorney Jason Slothouber advocated for a high bond for Wyatt.
“I think the degree of flight risk that this particular defendant represents is demonstrated by the course and timetable of events,” he said. “As soon as Ms. Wyatt and Mr. Ogden left (their interview with investigators), they literally sped home — they were pulled over for a speeding ticket — immediately packed up all their belongings … and took off for the middle of nowhere.”
The couple’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 arrest affidavits in the case say that Sarah woke up crying and Ogden grabbed her. Wyatt told authorities that she heard screaming and pounding sounds, but didn’t get out of bed.
Ogden brought the quiet baby back to bed, affidavits say, and in the morning, she wasn’t breathing.
Sarah’s twin brother was unhurt and taken into protective custody. A fund has been set up to provide him with mementos of his sister and possibly money for future education.
Ogden, 29, is being held without bond on potential 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, is lodged on a $100,000 bond for criminally negligent child abuse causing death, a third-degree felony that carries a range of four to 12 years in prison.
Although the couple are listed as co-defendants, they will begin the process with separate attorneys.
In Thursday’s advisement hearing before Judge John Neiley, Public Defender Tina Fang told the court that Montrose-based public defenders Kori Heil and Valerie Cole would handle the case.
Fang, who talked with Ogden at length before the proceedings, waived formal advisement of charges but expressed her office’s intention to file for bond. She did not speak with Wyatt, and viewed the prospect of representing both defendants as a conflict of interests.
Wyatt was assigned local attorney Kathy Goudy as alternative council.
Deputy DA Slothouber noted that the couple had no friends in Minnesota and made no attempt to attend custody hearings for their other child or see to their daughter’s funeral arrangements. He further described their ties to Garfield County as tenuous, with no employment and an unofficially sublet room in an apartment.
After expressing discontent at not having a lawyer present, Wyatt made a brief statement of her own. She acknowledged that she had no real roots in the community, but contradicted the prosecution’s broad version of events.
“They have, like, so many facts in this case wrong,” she said.
Judge Neiley opted for Slothouber’s suggestion of $100,000 bond, but reminded Wyatt that she could attempt to have it reduced at a later date.
“I am concerned by the prior conduct of the defendant at the onset of this case,” he said. “I believe that that is indicative of a potential pattern that she might flee the jurisdiction again.”
Ogden and Wyatt’s next scheduled appearance in court is before Judge Daniel Petre on Aug. 27.
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