Cody Man Accused Of Beating His 2-Year-Old Daughter To Death Ruled Sane Enough For Trial

Moshe Bahja Williams' prosecution was paused for a mental health evaluation but a judge on Thursday said he's sane enough to stand trial. Williams and his girlfriend both are charged with first-degree murder after Williams' 2-year-old died of a "gut punch."

Clair McFarland

March 17, 20234 min read

Moshe Williams, left, and Carolyn Aune
Moshe Williams, left, and Carolyn Aune (Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Clair McFarland, State Courts And Crime Reporter 

Accused of killing his toddler, a Cody man now has been found sane enough to stand trial.   

Moshe Bahja Williams and his girlfriend Carolyn Aune each face a first-degree murder charge tied to when Williams’ 2-year-old daughter died of what the medical examiner called a “gut punch” two years ago.  

Park County District Court Judge Bobbi Overfield in a Thursday hearing un-paused the case against Williams, saying that both the state’s psychiatric examiners and another “second opinion” examiner Williams sought both have declared him sane enough to face prosecution.

“And reflecting that Mr. Williams based on, now, two mental health evaluations does have the mental capacity I will set forth and as required under statute to proceed in his defense on these matters,” said Overfield.   

The judge at Williams’ request had paused his case last August so that Wyoming State Hospital personnel could determine whether Williams is sane enough to rationalize the case and defend himself.   

‘I Don’t Beat My Child’  

According to an evidentiary affidavit filed in the case in 2021, police noticed Aune and Williams when Williams brought his 2-year-old daughter to the emergency room in Cody on March 27, 2021.   

The girl was unresponsive and her body was covered in bruises and doctors believed she was suffering from internal bleeding.   

Williams told police that the girl had been vomiting all night and he bathed her and cared for her. He also reportedly told a trauma doctor he believed the bruising could be from an infection, according to the affidavit.   

“I don’t beat my child,” he told a Cody Police Officer who responded to the hospital, the affidavit relates.

Gut Punch

When the child died a week later in a children’s hospital in Colorado, the autopsy by Dr. Stephen Cina showed that she had:  

  • possible broken bones in both hands,   
  • a fractured left clavicle,   
  • a fractured vertebrae “likely from blunt force trauma,”   
  • several rib fractures the doctor attributed to “squeezing,”  
  • bruising on her scalp from what Cina believed was broad impact against a wall or floor,   
  • impact bruises on the back of her head  
  • brain swelling  
  • infections in her internal organs and   
  • A detached bowel.   
  • Her leg also had been amputated due to lack of circulation while she was unresponsive.

The detached bowel appeared to be from a “gut punch,” Cina concluded. It likely caused her death by causing bacterial or fungal infections in her organs and leading to fluid buildup in her brain and lungs.   


Police interviewed Williams and Aune at different locations at roughly the same time after the girl’s hospital visit, while she was still alive. They both denied hurting the child, floating theories that another, 9-year-old child in the home could have caused the injuries while sleepwalking; or the toddler could have had other wrestling and bed-falling accidents, according to the affidavit.   

Cina said that the injuries were likely caused by at least one adult.     

Trial, Maybe  

Overfield on Thursday also considered a request from Park County deputy attorney Jack Hatfield, asking the court to delay Aune’s April 17 trial, because key witnesses will be unable to attend it.   

Overfield said she’d take the state’s request for a delay under advisement.  

Aune’s attorney Elisabeth Trefonas disputed Hatfield’s request, saying the witnesses’ scheduling conflicts don’t all seem to justify not attending a criminal trial.   

The main conflict, Hatfield countered, is Dr. Stephen Cina’s “major medical surgery” that will have him out of work throughout the entire month of April.   

Trefonas asked what was the nature of Cina’s upcoming surgery. Hatfield’s victim/witness coordinator said she didn’t know, and hadn’t considered it her place to ask.   

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter