Her boyfriend killed her two-year-old son but she went to jail

Rebecca Hogue, 29, an Oklahoma woman found guilty of first degree murder in the death of her two-year-old son, has been send to prison for 16 months in jail, evading the life sentence endorsed by a panel of judges.

Hogue was accused in the death of her son Ryder under the state’s debatable “failure to protect” law, even though prosecutors say it was her boyfriend Christopher Trent who killed the child while she was not present. Ryder was found deceased on New Year’s Day 2020.

Judge Michael Tupper said as he passed down the judgement, “You do not deserve to die in prison. You are not a monster. You have value and you have worth”. Due to time served, Hogue will spend 13 months in prison.

Prosecuting attorney said that Hogue had resumed from working a shift at a bar in Oklahoma in the early hours of the morning and when she woke up, her boyfriend was gone and Ryder was cold and insensitive.

Officials firstly seemed doubtful about prosecuting Hogue. Police detective Sean Judy at first declined to file charges and was heard on a leaked audio tape calling any possible judgment to do so “bullsh**.”

Still, the district attorney in the area pressed forward with the first-degree murder charge against Hogue under the state’s controversial “failure to protect” law, in which custodians can be charged for the child abuse committed by their partners if they did or should have known about it.

Hogue has sustained that she didn’t know that exploitation was taking place and that Trent brushed off questions about bruises and cuts she had seen on her son as normal for a young and energetic boy.

In the meantime, Prosecutors say that Hogue searched online for what the possible signs of child exploitation might be, suggesting she felt her son might be in harm’s way.

Trent was found deceased by suicide in early 2020 after escaping into the Wichita Mountains. Nearby, someone had imprinted “Rebecca is innocent” into a tree.

Neither the detective’s remarks, nor the statement carved into the tree, were allowed into evidence at the trial, where it took a jury just two hours to find Hogue guilty and recommend a life sentence.

The case has attracted significant attention from civil rights and women’s groups. An appeal to free Hogue has more than 25,000 signatures.

Cindene Pezzell, legal director for the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, said that “It’s hard for people to believe that a mother might not know their child is being abused … but what standard are we holding their mothers to?

Cindene added that “I’ve seen cases where paediatricians don’t see any signs of abuse, and then the child dies, and the mother is charged with failure to protect.”


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