Trial begins for Oklahoma mother charged in connection to the death of her 2-year-old son

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CLEVELAND COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – It’s been nearly a year since the death of Jeremiah “Ryder” Johnson. His mother, Rebecca Hogue, has been charged with first-degree murder accused of enabling child abuse under Oklahoma’s Failure to Protect law. 

Hogue’s boyfriend, Christopher Trent, was the primary suspect in the case. Trent hung himself three days later. His body was found in the Wichita Wildlife Refuge.

Jury selection finished up Tuesday evening in Cleveland County, with opening statements and witness testimony taking place Wednesday morning. The mother sat quietly as the prosecution called four witnesses to the stand. 

A recently retired-patrol lieutenant with the Norman Police Department was the first to testify Wednesday morning. 

Lt. Clay Bolin told the court he entered the home on January 1, 2020, where Hogue was kneeling beside her unresponsive son, Ryder. 

Bolin stated while giving Ryder chest compressions, he noticed “the left side of his head, chin, and on his genitalia area appeared to be bruised.” 

Once the ambulance arrived, Bolin stated he carried Ryder to it.  

Prosecutors allege Hogue failed to protect Jeremiah from Trent, who was caring for the child when he received those fatal injuries.

Prosecutors also allege the injuries Ryder sustained should have given her an idea that he was being abused.

The defense argues Hogue had no clue about the abuse and she herself was abused in the past by Trent.

Norman Regional Health paramedic Jeffery Burtcher described to the court how the toddler was pulseless and had bruising all over his body. 

During one part of the testimony, Hogue’s attorney asked for recess after the mother turned her head when prosecutors showed police bodycam footage of Ryder’s lifeless body lying in a hospital bed.

KFOR was told that neither the defense nor the state wants to comment until after the trial.

The trial will pick back up Thursday morning at 9 a.m.

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