How to Place the Case of Baby Grace? UPDATED

UPDATE: Kimberly Dawn Trenor has been found guilty of capital murder in this case, and her sentence is life in prison without possibility of parole. Since she’s only twenty years old, that could amount to sixty to seventy years.

“GALVESTON, Texas — A mother was convicted Monday of capital murder in the beating death of her 2-year-old daughter during a daylong discipline session in which the toddler was whipped with belts and flung across a room like a rag doll.

A jury deliberated less than two hours before convicting 20-year-old Kimberly Dawn Trenor in the death of Riley Ann Sawyers. Trenor did not seem to show any emotion after the verdict was read. The conviction brought an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty. Jurors could have also convicted her of two lesser charges.”

Let her rot.

For those of you late to this party…

“Trenor and her husband, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, were accused of killing the toddler during the July 2007 discipline session designed to teach her proper manners. Prosecutors said Trenor and Zeigler beat Riley with belts, dunked her head in cold bath water and threw her onto a tile floor, fracturing her skull and causing her death. Zeigler, also charged with capital murder, is being tried later and remains jailed.”

No news on whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Zeigler, but there couldn’t be a better case for it, IMO, and I’m generally against capital punishment.


I agonized over whether or not to even post about Baby Grace because I find this case to be so deeply, deeply disturbing.

It’s not a complicated case. In a nutshell, this man…

Royce Clyde Zeigler II

Royce Clyde Zeigler II

… is accused of beating this little two-year-old girl…

Riley Ann Sawyers, aka Baby Grace

Riley Ann Sawyers, aka Baby Grace

… to death, while her mother…

Kimberly Dawn Trenor

Kimberly Dawn Trenor

… watched.

Here’s the part that totally and completely eviscerated me:

“… Trenor did nothing to save her daughter, not even when Riley told her mother “I love you” as she was being beaten.”

Got that? As this little girl was being beaten to death she was telling her mother that she loved her, and her mother did nothing to save her.

I’m not at all ashamed to admit that I lost it at this point in the article, and I’m not talking about a few easily wiped away tears here, I’m talking about a raging, screaming, face-in-hands, anguished and protracted cry. In fact, I need to take a break from this post to re-compose myself right now.


The more I thought about this abjectly pathetic case, the more troubled I became over the questions it raised in my mind. Sure, all civilized men and women of good will would be aghast and horrified by this outrageous insult to one so innocent, and so those first unanswerable whys and hows came obviously.

Here’s the thing: I read about horrors in the news all the time, as I’m sure any reader of this blog does, because we’re hyper-informed by a relentlessly sensationalist 24/7/365 news cycle these days, so the question that I wanted answered was why did this particular story reduce me to a shuddering fetal ball?

In the Muslim world, I read with boring regularity, “honor” killings of young women are numbingly routine, girls who simply want go to school are disfigured by having acid thrown in their faces, and rape victims are condemned to death and publicly executed. Equally grotesque types of stories emerge from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia with grim routine as well. Though disgusted and even enraged by such reports, they don’t drive me to tears. Why not?

Do you see why I’m becoming disturbed by the questions I’m asking myself? Will you understand if I’m reluctant to share my answers, and would rather that you simply ask yourself the same?

Another problem I have is this: Philosophically, I simply don’t think a person is a fully mature political entity until they’ve evolved into some form of libertarian. Like most, I reckon, I started out life as a liberal, evolved into a conservative, and then morphed into a libertarian. My views on the death penalty have followed suit: I was against it before I was for it, but now I’m against it again. Ultimately, I just don’t think a nation state should be in the business of executing its citizens, regardless of their crimes, because there is an absolute zero chance that capital punishment will be applied fairly, because human beings are involved.

So, you can understand my disappointment in myself when I tell you that I would honestly and sincerely like to execute these two monsters myself, personally.

How can our culture produce these utterly abominable kinds people? People devoid of all decency and conscience, seemingly oblivious to the rights of the most vulnerable in their midst?

“Trenor told police she and Riley moved from Mentor, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, to Spring, a suburb north of Houston, in June 2007 to be with Zeigler after she met him playing the online video game World of Warcraft.”

Far be it from me to issue a blanket condemnation of WoW – I haven’t played any kind of video game since I made it a mission in life to defeat Battle Chess on every skill level (Which I did, thank you very much) – because the world isn’t exactly rife with WoW players beating babies to death, and so there must be much more to it…

… and so the disturbing questions continue.

I don’t expect to have all, or even many, of these questions answered satisfactorily – such a thing seems far beyond the realm of possibility – so I’ll just have to take it as a plus to my overall humanity that I’m bothering to ask them of myself.

9 Responses to “How to Place the Case of Baby Grace? UPDATED”

  1. 185600 Says:

    I think you are probably a gentler soul than me.
    After reading that article, I had to go and run down the beach for a good hour, just to let the anger out.
    I was in a very dark place, and I will never let my wife see that. I save that for work. Very few people have seen me truly angry. Those that have regretted it.
    I don’t know what it is about society that creates people like these, and I don’t really care at the moment.
    I love kids, and we are trying like no tomorrow to have one, and the thought that these things (I struggle to call them people) could do such things to their own, it just, well, as I said, it’s a dark place in my soul. I could not imagine what I would do if left alone with such people, even for a second. That little girl joins the poor young one who’s nut father threw her from the Westgate bridge today.

    These ‘things’ aren’t human, and thus de-humanised to me, don’t deserve to be treated as such.

    I just wish them the slowest deaths possible, but in a ‘civilised’ society, the best we get to give them a life of shelter, food, and protection from the outraged people in this world who still hold onto their humanity.

    Sorry, I’m angry again, but I don’t care what drove them to do such a thing, I want to wipe them from existence, one piece at a time, until their blackened excuses for souls go to whatever awaits, hell or darkness, for eternity.

  2. thefrollickingmole Says:

    I dont support a death penalty as it is excersied by just the courts.
    Id like to see the sentence read out, an automatic 5 year stay of execution, followed by the parliment (State but preferably federal) holding a closed session (no reporting who voted what) removing the murdering arseholes citizenship, suspending their rights, then a straight 75% majority vote for execution.
    If the vote fails at any stage its converted to life, no parole.

    Thus it becomes equaly the parliments decision as well as the courts.

    There are truely evil people in the world, blessedly few, but still those so vile they cannot be allowed to walk the earth.

    I met one of WA’s worst rapists (kids, grannies, anything) in a mental hospital i was working at. In my opinion what had gone wrong with him was he had begun to speak his thoughts out aloud, without “censoring” his dialouge. He sat next to me as I was reading and told me how they all “loved it really”, and he was “irrisitable to women”, and the younger they where the more they liked it…

    I offered to stomp his balls flat if he didnt fuck off away from me and he did.
    Ive probably only met 3 truely evil people in my life. The rapist, a murderer and a pimp (addict 13 years olds to drugs then rent them out). All scum, and only the rapist has ever seen the inside of a gaol cell.

    All 3 should be dead.

  3. Boy on a bike Says:

    I have no qualms or quibbles with the death penalty. I try not to project when it comes to dealing with scum.

    My take on why some people are opposed to the death penalty is that they think the “victims” (ie, those who have been tried and convicted) are just that – victims. Victims of society, poor choices, poor parenting, drug abuse etc.

    They think these people are just like us, only with more problems, and more tragedies.

    I don’t see them as being just like us, only warped in some way. I see them as being completely outside the realm of our understanding. Putting them in a nice environment is not going to change them into nice people. They are rotten to the core, and I see no point in allowing them to hang around any longer pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.

  4. wreckage Says:

    While I feel that no death is too horrid for someone who murders a kid, I also know that the courts convict the wrong people fairly frequently. I’ve seen that. You can’t rescind the sentence or pardon the person after you’ve electrocuted them to death.
    By the time you’re done giving a criminal like this exactly what they deserve you’ve dehumanised yourself. We treat them humanely because failure to do so is erosive.

  5. Angus Dei Says:

    “I don’t see them as being just like us, only warped in some way. I see them as being completely outside the realm of our understanding.”

    This is what I has hopeful that someone would bring up. Many of my conclusions over how distraught I am about this have to do with simple, primitive tribalism, I believe.

    When I hear of some atrocity similar to this in the middle east, Asia, or Africa, I have an easier time with it because it is they who committed the act – the others – and not my tribe with my values: I expect nothong other than barbarism from barbarians, IOW. No, they aren’t fully human to me, so their lives are not worth what the lives of me and mine are worth.

    In this case, however, not only are the perpetrators of my tribe – allegedly with my values and at my level of humanity – but Riley is, in a very real sense our daughter – my daughter – that they so callously killed.

    Also – probably TMI – I’ve always thought that if I had been lucky enough to end up happily married (Versus miserably married, as I was), I would have much preferred to have daughters rather than sons. When I see that picture of Riley – which I can hardly stand to look at, much less ponder – I really see a little girl that I would have LOVED to be the father of.

    Well, I’m getting sick again…

  6. Dminor Says:

    The closest I’ve been to the news cycle in the last 4 days is glancing at the front page whilst walking past the newsagent. Yesterday’s headline was about the father being charged with murdering his 4 year-old girl (I think) by throwing her off a bridge. I thought, if you’re going to do that, mate, throw yourself off too. Now I read about this. In both cases what stirs us the most is the perfect innocence of each victim (two year old children can be stressful, I can currently vouch for that, but they’re still innocent). My memory was triggered of other cases, further back. I still shudder to think what might have happened to Daniel Morcombe from the Sunshine Coast on Queensland, abducted a few years ago. Police suspected an internet chat between two paedophiles about enjoying their ‘Christmas cake’ might have been referring to Daniel. At moments like those I think I could summarily execute the perpetrators without blinking.

    I am mindful of the horrendous upbringing many criminals have and I believe most self-destructive behaviours derive from that. There but for the grace of God go I, I might think, wondering how strong I’d be if I’d been serially molested as a child, beaten, mentally abused, encouraged in drugs, crime etc.

    I also know that some people have different brain chemistry. Replace some serotonin and you might see someone, previously suicidal with hopelessness, suddenly function on a whole different level. And others, even more deeply disturbed, where you might be able to block the voices in their head and the outright delusions but you’ll never get them quite right.

    I’ll agree with the Lefties in that most criminals probably are victims themselves in some way. But to varying degrees, all but the straight-out psychotic are able to make choices and I have little sympathy for those who seek to harm others. Some deserve nothing less than the death penalty but I am actually against State-sanctioned execution because of the human error factor.

    These extreme cases mostly fill me with anger, but even in them I can’t help but feel a little general sadness, not just for the victim but for the general circumstances, if not exactly for the criminals directly; I’m not sure I can forgive them anything for acts this vile and inhuman, only that it wouldn’t surprise me if they had themselves a history in which, if you go back far enough, they too were once the victim – that’s what makes me sad. And the Lefties, with all their good intentions, unfortunately tend to foster the development of dysfunctional elements in society with their attitude to welfare, single mothers, juvenile crime etc. We will never be a perfect society because we are imperfect beings and my only sure thought when it comes to minimising our problems is that we should never lose our connection to our fellow man, that desire to see, even promote happiness in others, but that it is an individuals decision when to apply it. The more we’re told to sacrifice for others, the more we resent it and a mean, unnecessary selfishness develops. Rational self-interest does not equate to heartlessness.

  7. Skul Says:

    I do support the death penalty.
    This is one reason I do.
    Yes, I live in Texas.
    We have an express lane for pieces of s**t like that.

  8. countingcats Says:

    I tend to have sympathy with Prof de la Paz’s take on the matter. Not prepared to concede to the state the right to kill citizens, but willing to take on the responsibility himself if he considers it necessary.

    On that basis, there is no contradiction or hypocrisy in your reaction.

    Sleep easy.

  9. missred Says:

    as a mother, i cannot understand what would possibly go on in a mother’s mind as she either watches her child abused/killed or does the killing itself. it is beyond my realm of thinking and that is putting it mildly. any mother who puts her child at such a risk deserves the death penalty. but that is just my humble opinion

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