An American woman whose boyfriend killed her son while she was at work has been sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Rebecca Hogue, 29, was convicted in November of the first-degree murder of her two-year-old son Ryder under Oklahoma’s “failure to protect” laws.
A jury recommended she be sentenced to life in prison, but a judge suspended the sentence at 16 months.
That means she will spend 13 months behind bars, due to time already served.
Speaking at her sentencing, Hogue said she would do anything to turn back the clock and prevent her son’s death.
“I was so proud to have such a beautiful, strong, smart, healthy child,” Hogue said, according to the Norman Transcript.
“The only thing in two years that brought me peace was that the man who did this is dead. I know my child is in heaven and [former boyfriend Trent] is nowhere near him.”
Sentencing Hogue, Judge Michael Tupper told her that she “didn’t deserve to die in prison.”
“You are not a monster,” the judge continued. “You have value and you have worth.”
Hogue’s case gained attention from the media and women’s rights groups after she was charged with first-degree murder under the state’s controversial “failure to protect” law. In Oklahoma, parents who fail to protect their children from abuse can be charged with the same crimes as the actual abuser.
Ryder was found dead on New Year’s Day 2020. Hogue — who had returned from a 12-hour shift at a bar in the wee hours of the morning — woke up to find him lifeless. His boyfriend, Christopher Trent, was missing.
Four days after Ryder’s death, police found Trent’s body in the Wichita mountains after an apparent suicide. The words “Rebecca is innocent” were carved into a nearby tree.
A coroner’s report concluded that Ryder’s cause of death was blunt force trauma, and prosecutors later said it was clear that Trent had killed him.
Hogue said she had no idea Trent was abusing Ryder until his death, although she had begun to notice the boy had unexplained minor injuries.
But prosecutors said Hogue had searched her phone for warning signs that a child might be abused, suggesting she thought her son might be in danger.
The jury was prohibited from seeing an image of the carved tree during the trial, which was considered hearsay, or listening to a recording of the lead detective in the investigation saying he doubted Hogue had committed a crime.
Hogue’s attorney, Andrew Casey, told the BBC that his family was “incredibly relieved” by the “just sentence.”
“We are heartbroken that this case has gone this far and are sincerely frustrated that this charge ever went to trial,” he said.
“We are grateful to have Rebecca back soon.”