Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Short Life of Riley Ann Sawyers and Seeking Justice for Her

Riley Ann Sawyer

‘Baby Grace’ was a beautiful 2-year old with long blonde hair and dressed in a size 2T pink outfit. She had little white sneakers with purple accents and lights built into them. Nobody knew who she was when her little remains, stuffed into a plastic container, washed up in Galveston Bay last October.

In November, Riley’s paternal grandmother, Sheryl Sawyers, called the sheriff’s office after she saw a sketch of Baby Grace. The nation learned that ‘Baby Grace’ was Riley Ann Sawyers and her mother Kimberly Dawn Trenor, 19, and her stepfather Royce Clyde Zeigler II, 24, had beaten her to death on July 24.

Trenor told investigators that she and her husband had beaten Riley with two leather belts. They also held her head underwater in the bathtub and Zeigler picked her up by her hair and threw her across the room, slamming her head into a tile floor.

The autopsy found that Riley had three skull fractures on the back of her head.

The parents also allegedly smothered the girl by pushing her face into a pillow in her room and into the cushions of a couch.

Trenor told investigators that during the beating, her husband gave the little girl child’s pain medication and covered her with a purple towel after she was dead.

That evening, the couple went to a local Wal-Mart and bought a blue plastic storage container. The plastic bin that contained the child’s body was kept in a storage shed in the backyard of their home for one to two months before they transported Riley’s remains and tossed them into the water near the Galveston Causeway.

The capital murder case against Kimberly Trenor began Tuesday. Ziegler will be tried separately.

During assistant district attorney Kayla Allen’s opening statements, the jury was told that Riley tried to stop her mother and stepfather from beating her to death by reaching out to her mother and saying, "I love you.” Allen also said Riley died for forgetting to say "please" and "yes, sir."

Testimony revealed that Trenor and Ziegler developed a list of things Riley needed to learn in order for her to “behave” better.

Rules for Riley – (1-6 were handwritten by Zeigler and 7-9 written by Trenor.)

1. being polite
2. Listen to mom & me
3. sleep @ 8 pm
4. nap @ 2 pm
5. toys stay in her room
6. puts toys back where she go em
7. behaves in public
8. never alone in our room
9. chocolate/cake or treats only as a reward
10. (was written in, but nothing was written beside it)

FBI forensic document examiner, Gabriel Watts, also told jurors that suicide notes were written on the same page.

To Whom It May Concern
I Royce Zeigler II leave my property to Kimberly Tenor Zeigler my wife. I take my own life because of guilt for past sins which I have confessed before I took my life. My wife Kimberly Zeigler is innocent and lived in fear … because of thought of what I would do to her. Also my family can go burn in hell for their stress that they've caused. So here I take my own life.
Royce Zeigler II

Trenor wrote the following.
My heart is black dead. I can't live with myself after Riley. I go to be.
Kimberly Zeigler

Further evidence submitted to the court includes receipts from Wal-Mart for the items purchased by Trenor and Ziegler the night of July 24.

Receipt #1
- Shovel
- Kilz cement
- Trash bags
- Rubber gloves
- Two respiratory masks
- Duct tape
- Anchor chain

Receipt #2
- Latex gloves (small and large sizes)
- "Head to Toe"' baby wash
- Two bottles of bleach
- Large storage container (included child safety warning)


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katfish said...

Too bad these cowards didn't follow through with their suicide plans...then one might believe they have remorse for the suffering of poor baby Riley.

Thankfully Riley's grandmother recognized her picture or this couple would have been teaching their next child manners soon.

Thanks for the report!

LinZbee said...

Is this trial being broadcast somewhere live? Please let me know, I'd very much like to watch it.
Thanks for your excellent and touching report D.

Sprocket said...

I could be wrong LinZbee, but I don't think it is. If there was a feed somewhere, I'm sure the good folks over at JurorThirteen would have a link to a feed.

Sprocket said...

From JurorThirteen I found a link to a reporter from what appears to be a local station, who is blogging from inside the courtroom.

(Link broken for it to fit blogger.)

CaliGirl9 said...

Is the death penalty on the table for one or both defendants?

Poor baby girl, she's so cute, why not just give up custody so she could have found a loving family. This case is senseless as Caylee's.

Birth control is a good thing and should be handed out liberally to teenage girls who are choosing to be sexually active. Maybe it should just be put in municipal water supplies.

mControl said...

Breaks my heart, shatters it really... death is to good for them they should be sterilized and beaten in the same manner they treated that poor, helpless child. I'd hurt em with my bare hands given half the chance-

donchais said...

katfish -

While incarcerated awaiting trial, Trenor gave birth to a baby boy! That child is with Zeigler's relatives in Texas.

CaliGirl -

Both face life sentences. The State didn't pursue the death penalty because they didn't believe they could prove to the jury that either was capable of doing such a monstrous act again.

If they did it once......but then, I'm not on the jury!

Anonymous said...

Just got a jury summons for March--do you suppose?!