Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Injustice of Baby Grace

by Stacy Dittrich

If, after you read this post, you don’t have at least one tear in your eye, become angry, or get a chill and a lump in your throat, please don’t refer to yourself as a human being. In the hype, speculation, and focus of the Caylee Anthony case, little to no attention has been paid to Baby Grace. You remember her, right? The two year old, later identified as Riley Ann Sawyers (pictured left), was found stuffed into a plastic container and dumped into Galveston Bay. When the remains were located in October 2007, the investigators could only refer to her as “Baby Grace.” By the time she was identified, it didn’t take long for the vile details of her death to surface after her mother and her boyfriend were arrested for Riley’s murder. The capital murder trial for Riley’s mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor (20), began last week in Galveston, Texas.

During the trial, Kimberly calmly testified before sobbing jurors exactly what happened on the day of Riley’s death. Prepare Yourself.

Kimberly’s boyfriend, Royce Clyde Zeigler II (25), decided that little Riley ne
eded more discipline. On July 25, 2007, Royce stayed home from work for the sole purpose of instilling "respect" into the toddler. Beginning in the morning, Kimberly and Royce (pictured right with Riley) beat Riley with a leather belt—so hard that Royce’s shoulder hurt—before shoving her face into a pillow. Then, they repeatedly dunked her head into a tub filled with cold water. When Riley couldn't stand up—her legs black and blue from the beatings—Royce began to violently throw her across the room after dragging her by the hair. According to Kimberly’s own testimony, she was able to hear the back of Riley’s skull crack when it hit the tile floor. This torture and abuse lasted all day long. What, according to Kimberly, did Riley repeatedly say to her during the abuse and ultimately became her last words? “I love you, Mommy.”

Feel free to grab a Kleenex.

You're quite a man, Royce Zeigler. . . . I truly hope you get what's coming to you in prison. That will be justice. The suffering and pain this innocent baby endured during the last several hours of her life is indescribable. Any prudent person would believe that a crime as horrific as this that occurred in Texas would be a no-brainer for the death penalty. However, the death penalty is off the table. Why? Because the prosecution didn’t believe that the murderous couple would be a future threat.

Feel free to scratch your head or yell out an obscenity.

hese types of injustices are difficult to understand. I wonder, who is the voice for little Riley? It doesn’t seem that there is one. We still don’t know, and may never know, what happened to Caylee Anthony. Did she suffer like Riley? If so, the prosecutors in Florida have a duty to be the voice of Caylee, and send a message to those out there that torture, pain, and death to innocent children is NOT okay. The death penalty would make this voice heard loud and clear.

No future threat? In June 2008, while awaiting trial, Kimberly Trenor gave birth to a baby boy. Royce Zeigler refuses to relinquish his parental rights. Imagine if he were to be released due to a technicality during his trial, which begins soon. Would he not be a threat to an infant that cried in the middle of the night?

Oh, but they didn't mean to hurt Riley! This from Kimberly's defense attorney who claimed she never intended to hurt Riley, but "things spun out of control." Spun out of control? That's how they view it?

It’s truly mind-numbing. Riley Ann Sawyer’s voice was lost. With the upcoming trial of Casey Anthony, we can only hope Caylee’s voice will be heard.


Anon said...

Don't you just love how these parents "never meant to do it" and then they put their babies in plastic bags and containers and throw them away? I just don't understand how you can beat a child all freaking day and then claim it spun out of control. I am shocked that the prosecutors, especially in the state of Texas didn't seek the DP.

Paralegal Sandy said...

My question is what is wrong with our prosecutors and judges that are allowing such rediculous things to go on in the justice system !!!!!!!! This is just so totally wrong it is beyond comprehension. I was at my daughters house this week end and when Dad just got on to the 8 year for something it broke my heart. You can imagine how I feel about this! And what kind of mother would allow such a thing. What creeps! She was so precious. Why don't they just give them to people that really want them?
Well now they will get 3 hots and a cot at our expense. No more worries for them. Unless some of those in the lions den devour them, which would be a good thing. Maybe someone will show them how it feels to be beat and thrown against a wall so hard their skull cracks.GRRRRRRR%$$##$$%%%^%$$$.

andy kahan said...


Great post-was involved with this case and before Riley was identified I named her America's child.

For the record Kimberly did not take the stand and testify. Her confession was read into the record.

Stacy Dittrich said...

Good point Andy--duly noted!! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

This crime was so truly unbelievable that I am still trying to comprehend how anyone, much less her mother, could have done this to an innocent child. The fact that this episode lasted all day, makes me want to vomit! Yes, they both should have received the death penalty, and we can only pray that his trial goes without error and he is at least put in prison. What is wrong with our justice system. I know someone who was arrested in Texas with less than an ounce of marijuana and got 25 years. If that crime warrants 25 years, torture and murder of a child should get the death penalty for sure.

womenslegal said...

Hi Stacy,

Wow, I can't stop crying....that poor little innocent soul. I just don't get it. I am speechless.

Kathryn Casey said...

I've been upset by the case ever since it happened, and this past week with the trial was awful. I turned off the news a couple of nights, because I just couldn't stomach it. And believe me, I've seen a lot over the years.

Yesterday, the mother (and I use the term very loosely) got life without parole. At least she won't be free to victimize more children.

katfish said...

If/when Zeigler is convicted for killing Riley, will the state be able to terminate his parental rights over that little baby boy regardless of Ziegler's wishes?Without a doubt, he would at some point need to "teach" this little guy some manners as well if given the chance...

Did Zeigler also confess to what happened with Riley? I heard police found suicide notes both he and Trenor had written, but do you know if there was an actual confession?

Sickening! Sad! Tragic!

Leah said...

Who has the baby she just had?

Missing Kid Services said...

This is absolutely just sick. There must be something that can be done legislatively about these judges? I am so tired of seeing these slaps on the wrist for these horrible crimes. It makes me sick to think about what this little baby went through and what happened to her attackers. I won't even say parent as NO real parent could ever do this.

Anonymous said...

The Judge? The prosecutors didnt go for the DP, not the judge. Probably because intent would be sctutinized harder with a DP case.

She got LWOP. How is that a slap on the wrist?

Anonymous said...

I just want to throw up when I imagine that poor baby's voice pleading with her mom - telling her she loves her. And what did the "mom" do?? Allowed the light to fade from this beautiful angel. Rest in peace, little Riley - you are in a much better place!

Anonymous said...

As a followup to this tragic story, Royce Zeigler was convicted of capital murder on Nov 6, 2009 and was given an automatic sentence of life without parole.

This truly was one of the most heartbreaking crimes I've ever heard of. The abuse of this poor little 2 year old angel is unspeakable and makes grown men cry. I was at parts of Kimberly's trial, and cried for days afterwards. The juries at both trials wept many tears.

Riley did have a voice; her paternal grandmother Sheryl Ann Sawyers. Sheryl and Riley's father searched for Riley after Kim left Ohio, even hiring an attorney to try to find her. Sheryl was a primary care-giver to Riley up until Kim left. Sheryl would have walked with bare feet, all the way from Ohio to Texas to retrieve Riley, if only given the chance by the 2 monsters who killed her. She testified as Riley's voice during both trial and has endured hardship and pain beyond imagining.

Thank God, a jury heard the truth and convicted Royce, in spite of the "teddy bear" image that his lawyers tried to portray. I personally thank them for their service.

Rest in Peace little Riley, you are safe now.

katfish said...

Anon Nov 6,
Thanks for the update. I'm so glad to hear that Riley had her Father and Grandmother there to speak for her in court. Her voice needed to be heard for justice to truly prevail. She is no doubt safe now in the Lord's hands and I hope her family finds some solace in that.

I wish the same could be said for other children who are victims of their parent(s)....such as Caylee Anthony. :`(