Mills Woman Charged With Attempted 2nd-degree Murder to be Tried

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A Mills woman charged with the attempted second-degree murder of her 12-year-old stepson will face trial in Natrona County District Court.

Sarah Marie Hilyard waived her preliminary hearing in Natrona County Circuit Court on Tuesday.

A trial date will be set later.

Besides the attempted second-degree murder charge, which if convicted carries a minimum 20-year prison sentence, Hilyard faces one charge of aggravated child abuse and two counts of child abuse.

If convicted, aggravated child abuse is punishable by up to 25 years imprisonment and child abuse is punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment.

Tuesday, Hilyard didn’t speak.

Her public defender Joseph Cole successfully persuaded Judge Michael Patchen to lower her $150,000 cash or surety bond. Cole asked Patchen to set her bond at between $5,000 and $10,000.

Cole said she is a long-term resident of Casper and is not a danger to the community and neither of those reasons justified the high bond. He added that she should be allowed to have contact with her husband Ryan Hilyard and stay in their house in Mills, otherwise she might be forced to stay at the Wyoming Rescue Mission in Casper.

Patchen looked at the charging documents and said that she was in Casper only for three-and-a-half years, to which Cole said she has been with her husband during that time.

Cole added that prosecutors waited a long time from the initial report on Aug. 6 to file charges last week, which indicated to him that the prosecutors weren’t that concerned about her possible danger to the community.

However, Assistant District Attorney Jared Holbrook responded that the seriousness of the charges warranted the high bond and the state waited to file charges until after it completed the investigation, which included interviewing two children in the household.

Holbrook added that the two children are witnesses and should have no contact with Sarah or Ryan Hilyard.

Patchen said the no contact order will remain in effect, but he agreed to lower the bond to $50,000.

Ryan Hilyard is free on a $100,000 cash or surety bond. He is charged with one count of attempted second-degree murder, one count of aggravated child abuse and one count of child abuse.

The charging documents for the Hilyards are accompanied by lengthy affidavits.

The case started on Aug. 6 when Mills police officers were called to the Wyoming Medical Center for a report of suspected child abuse. Sarah Hilyard brought in her 12-year-old stepson and told hospital staff that he was unresponsive. She said he fell down the stairs; she repeatedly changed her stories in interviews.

The medical records noted these and other issues:

  • Bleeding and swelling of the brain that shifted it 13 mm off midline.
  • A subdural hematoma.
  • Acute respiratory failure.
  • A complete collapse of the left ventricle.
  • Swelling of the small bowel.
  • Hyponatremia — abnormally low concentration of sodium.
  • Multiple bruises and abrasions.
  • Concern for nonaccidental trauma.

A neurosurgeon told Sarah Hilyard, “right now if we don’t do anything he’ll die very quickly.”

The boy was taken to Children’s Hospital in Colorado for treatment.

During the investigation, authorities learned — sometimes with testimony from two of the Hilyard’s children — that the stepson had been dragged up and down a stairway, that both parents would hit the stepson with their fists, that Ryan Hilyard would pick up the children by their throats, that his 10-year-old brother was ordered to beat him, and that the parents would withhold food and water from the children.


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