Oklahoma woman found guilty of first degree murder in connection with 2-year-old son’s death

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CLEVELAND COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma mother has been found guilty in the death of her 2-year-old son.

The jury has found Rebecca Hogue guilty of first-degree murder.

Prosecutors say Hogue failed to protect her 2-year-old son, Jeremiah Johnson, from her boyfriend, Christopher Trent, who was caring for the child when he suffered those fatal injuries in January of 2020. 

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Jeremiah Ryder Johnson

Trent was the subject of a manhunt following the child’s death but was found dead at the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge. He hanged himself before he could face charges. 

Prosecutors argued Hogue didn’t kill Jeremiah, but she knew it was happening and reportedly did nothing to stop it.

However, the defense argues that Hogue had no idea abuse was happening.

On Wednesday, closing arguments took place in Hogue’s eight-day trial. 

Prosecutors once again told the jury Hogue had to have known Ryder was being abused. 

The state argued Hogue was concerned, and that’s why she took photos of Ryder’s cuts and bruises, and confronted Trent in December 2019.

Prosecutors stated she even reviewed articles about symptoms and signs of child abuse and neglect.

However, Hogue’s attorney, Andrew Casey argued the state failed to prove when the bruises happened and could not prove Hogue was concerned about Ryder’s bruises. 

The defense stated Hogue believe Trent’s claims about Ryder falling because he was a very active kid who got into everything, and she trusted Trent’s judgment because he had two kids of his own. 

The defense argued Trent would Facetime Rebecca at work with Ryder smiling in the background. 

Casey stated Trent manipulated her every time she brought up bruises on Ryder. He also reminded the jury that Trent murdered Ryder, not Rebecca. 

The state argued Trent may have been the abuser, but Hogue was the gatekeeper.

Prosecutors stated Hogue made a choice to put Ryder in Trent’s care despite her concerns. If Hogue had a different babysitter, he would still be alive. 

The jury began their deliberations around 3 p.m. Wednesday. They returned a guilty verdict just before 6 p.m.

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