Mom gets 8 years in Baby Sarah’s slaying
Phyllis “Amy” Wyatt was sentenced Friday to eight years in the Colorado Department of Corrections – eight months after police say her husband killed their month-old child, Sarah Ogden.
Without a plea deal, Wyatt, 42, pleaded guilty in December to the one count against her: criminally negligent child abuse resulting in death. Matthew Ogden, 30, who Wyatt said in court Friday is her “soon-to-be ex-husband,” faces a first-degree murder charge in the incident in their Parachute apartment in June.
In the few weeks between Wyatt giving birth to Sarah and her twin brother and Sarah’s death, the couple was unprepared and struggling with their roles as parents, said Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett.
Ogden was regularly screaming obscenities at the baby girl and telling her to shut up, he said.
Sometime on the night of June 19, 2015, or the following morning, Wyatt woke see her husband holding their newborn by the waist, yelling and shaking her violently, according to police. Ogden then took the child into the next room, and Wyatt told police she heard “horrific” noises — pounding, thumping and more yelling.
When he came back into the bedroom with the baby, Sarah wasn’t crying anymore, and Wyatt said she just rolled over and went back to sleep.
A forensic pathologist would find the cause of death to be a fractured skull, hemorrhaging to her brain and a lacerated liver.
And while medical workers, who didn’t know the cause of the baby’s distress, scrambled the next day to save Sarah’s life, Wyatt sat by and said nothing, said Barrett.
She “failed epically” in the responsibility that all parents have to protect their children, he said.
Ogden and Wyatt fled before warrants were issued, but were picked up June 30 in north-central Minnesota — an area Ogden reportedly visited as a child.
Barrett asked for a lengthy prison sentence, in part to protect Sarah’s surviving twin brother.
Defense Attorney Kathy Goudy argued against the idea that Wyatt didn’t care about her children. Wyatt suffers from bipolar disorder and dyslexia amongst other problems, Goudy said. Wyatt went off her medication when she found out she was pregnant and stayed off of it when it came time to breastfeed her new twins.
The couple had also moved to Colorado from California because they feared losing custody of the newborns over their marijuana use, she said.
Previous court proceedings disclosed that Wyatt lost custody of her older children in California and once threatened to kill her family by burning her house down.
Ogden is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and he has at least three personalities, said Goudy. She said one of Ogden’s personalities is named George, a violent personality who tells Ogden to do horrible things to people.
One witness reported that, just weeks before Sarah’s death, Ogden had said the voices in his head wanted him to hurt the babies, said the defense attorney.
Goudy asked Judge John Neiley to sentence Wyatt to probation or community corrections, saying she wasn’t a candidate for prison.
She needs grief counseling and to see her surviving son for closure, if not custody, said Goudy.
“If there was any indication that something like this could or would happen to any of my children, I never would have procreated with Matthew,” Wyatt said just before Neiley pronounced the sentence.
Wyatt said Ogden had a strange way of parenting, having been screamed at by his own mother as a boy, “but it worked.”
“I’m going to miss her forever,” she said through tears. “The thought that I could have saved her by getting up kills me inside. No matter what you give me today, I will be living in hell forever.” She called it a “life sentence of knowing that I could have done something.”
The judge took a middle path for sentencing. The normal range for the charge against Wyatt is four to 16 years in prison.
Following sentencing, Barrett told the Post Independent that he was shooting for a prison sentence long enough to ensure that Wyatt never gets the opportunity to see her son, Sarah’s twin, again.
Barrett hopes the eight-year prison sentence will be enough time to reach that goal but added that he doesn’t know that an appropriate sentence exists for this kind of crime.
Sarah was never given a legitimate chance to live in this world, said Barrett.
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