After a four-day trial, a jury found a Payson woman guilty Friday of burning her child with cigarettes.
The jury found Sarah Michelle Ryan, 31, of Payson, guilty of child abuse and neglect after deliberating for only 3.5 hours. On a fourth charge of influencing a witness, for reportedly telling her daughter to lie to officers, the jury returned a not guilty verdict.
Ryan will go before Superior Court Judge Peter Chill Nov. 26 for sentencing. She faces 2.5 years in prison for child abuse/domestic violence and up to six months in the Gila County jail for child abuse.
Payson detectives uncovered Ryan had burned her daughter with cigarettes in 2011 after officials at the girl’s school came forward.
The jury heard that Ryan burned her 6-year-old daughter on the palms with cigarettes, causing second-degree burns. A few days after the burning, the child told her teacher that mommy burned her with cigarettes and used her as an ashtray.
When Payson Police Det. Mike Varga asked the girl how she got her “owies,” she replied, “Mommy burns me.”
Varga found cigarettes and related items in Ryan’s home, despite her continued denial that she smoked cigarettes.
“The most powerful testimony came from the brave victim (now 7) who testified that her mommy burned her with cigarettes,” said Deputy County Attorney Ramai Alvarez.
Ryan maintained her innocence throughout the investigation, telling officers her daughter got the marks from the monkey bars at school, from bugs and by picking at scratches.
Deputy County Attorneys Alvarez and Lacy Cooper prosecuted the case.
In another case, a jury found Christina Ann Brown of the Valley guilty of aggravated DUI with a child present.
Brown was scheduled to go before Cahill Monday morning for sentencing, but failed to make the hearing. When she arrived Monday afternoon, a county prosecutor asked Cahill to put her in jail until sentencing.
Cahill denied that request and ordered Brown to make a Nov. 21 sentencing in Globe.
The county probation department has recommended Cahill sentence Brown to 2.3 years in jail. The county has asked for 1.9 years in jail.