California Toddler Killed, Mom and Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty


This morning, a Napa, California mom and her boyfriend pleaded not guilty after being charged with the killing of the woman’s 3-year-old toddler, Kayleigh Slusher. The child’s 23-year-old mother, Sara Krueger, as well as Krueger’s boyfriend, 26-year-old Ryan Scott Warner, allegedly beat Kayleigh to death on Jan. 30.

The couples’ not guilty pleas were announced today in front of Mark Boessenecker, Napa County superior court judge who ordered the couple back on April 2 for the next hearing. Krueger and Warner declined preliminary hearings that were to be held in 10 days.

According to Gary Lieberstein, Napa County district attorney, the toddler’s cause of death was “multiple blunt impact injuries” all over the body, including the head. He said that the injuries were caused by “fatal child abuse and neglect.”

According to authorities, the Napa Police found Kayleigh’s body in her bed on Feb. 1 after they were called to Krueger’s unit to perform a welfare check. A previous court filing by Napa Police said that the couple admitted to putting Kayleigh’s body in a suitcase for three days, and then placing it in a freezer before putting her body in her bed prior to the police inspection.

The couple left the apartment and was apprehended by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) officials at the El Cerrito Del Norte station approximately 30 miles south of Napa. They now face murder and assault charges, for which the mom and boyfriend plead not guilty after the California toddler was killed. Krueger and Warner are held without bail at the Napa County jail. While in court to announce the pleas, Krueger was crying and Warner silently sat.

The charges harnessed against the California couple have a potential conviction of a 25-years-to-life sentence. As of now, the charges do not qualify for the death penalty.

Lieberstein said he did not expect any changes in the charges to happen on today’s court date, but that they will change the charges, if necessary, as the evidence is evaluated. He said that these decisions would be made at the correct occasion after processing and receiving the reports on the evidence.

The judge refused media requests after a request from Krueger’s counsel, Chief Deputy Public Defender Kris Keeley argued against the use of photography and video in the courtroom. Keeley said that it would hinder Krueger’s right to a fair trial. Keeley added that this was in part to help the case stay in Napa. She said that moving the trial location was adverse for those involved with the case. Lieberstein said that they were far from a possible change in trial location “at this point.”

The police had been notified of disruptions in the home on previous occasions, but there were no incidents regarding the 3-year-old child or reports to the agency that is in charge of protecting abused children. The police were even there a day before discovering Kayleigh’s body, but they did not find any problems. Now, the mom and her boyfriend plead not guilty to charges of murder and assault in the killing of the California toddler.

By Rebecca Hofland

Napa Valley Register
The Santa Rosa Press Democrat
The San Francisco Chronicle

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