A jury convicted a Cody woman of first-degree murder Thursday in the 2021 death of her boyfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.
Carolyn Aune, 30, stood trial in Park County District Court for nine days. Her co-defendant and the victim’s father, Moshe Williams, 32, has not yet had his trial.
Aune’s jurors chose a first-degree murder variation by which a defendant who abuses a child younger than 16 is guilty of the murder charge if that child dies. Aune injured the toddler recklessly, not intentionally, the jury found.
They reached their verdict around 5 p.m., Jack Hatfield II, Park County deputy attorney told Cowboy State Daily.
The charge is punishable by life in prison with or without parole, or by the death penalty. But Hatfield and his office are not seeking the death penalty in the case.
District Court Judge Bobbi Overfield at Aune’s upcoming sentencing hearing, which is not yet scheduled, can choose whether to grant Aune the option of parole.
‘I Don’t Beat My Child’
According to an 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, 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.
When the child died a week later in a children’s hospital in Colorado, an autopsy by Dr. Stephen Cina showed that she had a detached bowel from what he described as a “gut punch.”
It likely caused her death by causing bacterial or fungal infections in her organs and leading to fluid buildup in her brain and lungs, Cina concluded.
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.