Bond kept at $100K for mom in baby death
Phyllis “Amy” Wyatt will remain jailed on $100,000 bond despite her attorney’s effort to lower the amount, Judge John Neiley ruled Tuesday.
Wyatt and her partner Matthew Ogden’s month-old 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 left the state before warrants were issued, leaving Sarah’s twin in protective custody, and were later 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.
In her first appearance, without an attorney to represent her, her bond was reduced from $300,000. Kathy Goudy, now appointed to defend Wyatt, argued that the figure should have been closer to the $10,000 scheduled for a third-degree felony. The fact that the couple left the area after being interviewed, she argued, should not be held against them.
“I don’t think the word flight was appropriate in this matter, because the arrest warrant was not even sought for another four days,” Goudy said.
Senior trial deputy district attorney Matthew Barrett disagreed.
“She was in such a hurry to get out of here, she didn’t remain around for the surviving child,” he said. “If that isn’t indicative of a willingness to flee, I don’t know what is.”
Barrett also cited Wyatt’s past struggles with mental health and lack of roots in the area.
In making his decision, Neiley echoed some of the same sentiments.
“I’m very concerned about this defendant’s lack of ties to the community and prior history of leaving the state,” he said. “Even though it’s a crime of omission … it still has a significant component because we’re talking about a dead child … I still consider the amount to be appropriate.”
Tuesday’s hearing also gave the parties in the case an opportunity to discuss the issue of public disclosure after a motion from prosecutors revealed that Wyatt lost custody of her older children in California and that she once threatened to kill her family by burning her house down. Although Neiley ruled last week that the document was public, he later made a ruling sealing certain records related to the ongoing custody dispute over Sarah’s twin, and requiring approval before sealed documents could be quoted in open court.
“I think we need to be sensitive on both sides of the case as to how much comes out,” he said.
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Silt, Rifle and Parachute high schools are holding their graduation ceremonies this Saturday in Western Garfield County.