Accused Wyoming Child Torturer Doesn’t Want Kids To Testify At Her Trial

A Wyoming woman accused to torturing her 13-year-old son, whom police reportedly found in a crawl space with broken bones and starving, petitioned the court this week to not let any of her other five children testify against her.

Clair McFarland

May 24, 20244 min read

Kandace Sitting Eagle
Kandace Sitting Eagle (Via Facebook and LinkedIn)

A federal defense attorney asked a court this week not to let an accused child-torturer’s own children testify at her trial.

Kandace Van Fleet, also known as Kandace Sitting Eagle, faces a potential lifetime in prison on charges of assault, kidnapping and child abuse stemming from alleged serious injuries found last December on her 13-year-old son.

Police say they found the boy famished, with broken bones and bruises, in a crawl space under Van Fleet’s home Dec. 12, 2023.

Van Fleet’s husband, Truman Sitting Eagle, pleaded guilty in this case last month and now awaits a July 9 sentencing hearing. He’s invoking his spousal privilege not to testify for or against his wife as she goes to trial.  

Kandace Van Fleet is preparing to fight her charges at a June 10 trial, with a recent flurry of filings asking the U.S. District Court for Wyoming to restrict and remove some of the evidence against her.

Her defense attorney, Dion Custis, filed a request Tuesday asking the U.S. District Court for Wyoming not to let Van Fleet’s children testify at her trial.

“The alleged child victim has a long history of mental and/or behavioral problems and is expected to testify,” reads Custis’ motion to the court.

Van Fleet has five other children, and three of them, ages 4, 6, and 8, are expected to testify as well, the filing says, adding that the little ones can’t understand the court processes or trial oath.

Van Fleet’s defense attorneys have tried to interview the smaller children, but they couldn’t recall or understand basic questions about the trial or case, the filing says.

“To allow them to testify would violate the defendant’s rights,” Custis wrote. He pointed to Van Fleet’s constitutional rights to due process and to cross-examine witnesses at trial.

Also That Time She Said Her Kid Got In A Fight

Custis asked the court in a separate motion Tuesday to keep out of the evidence pool things Van Fleet said when federal agents arrested her Dec. 12, 2023.

Officers stopped her in her vehicle and took several statements from her while they were looking for her son, who’d been absent from school for weeks, according to court documents.

She told the officers her son was with another person and was OK, the filing relates from officers’ statements. She also reportedly alerted her husband the police were looking for the boy. After being handcuffed, she told officers her son had gotten in a fight a week prior but was at her home and was OK, the filing relates.

That same day, Bureau of Indian Affairs Officer Matt Lee reportedly found the boy bruised, severely injured and famished, hiding in a crawl space under the Sitting Eagles’ home.

“(Van Fleet) was never read her rights under Miranda,” says the defense’s filing, which argues that the things she said before or after being handcuffed shouldn’t be allowed at trial, and that officers violated her right to remain silent by eliciting her comments.

“All the police officers’ actions in questioning the defendant violated her rights,” the filing says.

Custis expects the prosecutor to argue that Van Fleet said these things while she wasn’t technically in police custody, or she uttered them excitedly without being prompted.

Even then, argued Custis in the filing, the court should purge these statements from trial because they’re more likely to make Van Fleet look unsavory to the jury than to support valuable evidence.

Federal evidence rules bar evidence whose key function is to prejudice the jury against a defendant, rather than prove an element of a crime.

No Religion, No Bad Conduct

The case prosecutor, Cameron Cook, had filed five more motions to restrict evidence as of Friday afternoon. These are:

  • A motion for the court to keep out evidence about religious beliefs or opinions.
  • A question of whether the court can include statements people in the case made to medical providers.
  • A motion not to let the jury know what sentencing consequences Van Fleet may face if convicted.
  • A motion about specific instances of Van Fleet’s “prior bad conduct.”
  • And a motion to keep out of trial evidence of the alleged victim’s mental health treatment records.

Cowboy State Daily cannot review the legal arguments and details in each of these motions because they have not been made public.

The defense’s requests are pending before the court, and the case is ongoing.

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter