A woman likely facing prison time after a jury convicted her of burning her child with cigarettes is free another two weeks after a judge postponed her sentencing.
A jury this month convicted Sarah Michelle Ryan, 31, of Tonto Basin, of child abuse and neglect after hearing evidence that Ryan used her 6-year-old daughter as an ashtray, putting cigarettes out on her body, including her hands, arms and legs.
On Monday, Ryan appeared before Superior Court Judge Peter Cahill in a Payson courtroom with her attorney Ronald DeBrigida.
DeBrigida first asked Cahill for a new trial.
“The state may be convinced, this court may be convinced and the jury is obviously convinced of what happened here, but we are not convinced,” he said.
Cahill denied that request.
DeBrigida then asked for more time to respond to a presentencing report filed last Tuesday.
DeBrigida said he hadn’t anticipated that probation would file the report and he was even more surprised by what was written in it.
“There are things in that report that we take issue with that we would like additional time to respond to,” he said.
He said that the report included damning statements, both by the probation department and family members that had nothing to do with the case that he would address given the time.
“It is not in the interest of justice, let alone the interest of my client, to go forward with sentencing today,” he said.
“There have been allegations raised in the presentencing report that there’s no doubt form the basis for the underlying recommendations … that frankly don’t have anything to do with this case.”
Statements include those by probation that in an 18-month period police responded to Ryan’s home 11 times and Child Protective Services wrote six reports for potential abuse or neglect.
Cahill said he didn’t know why probation had included that information since it has nothing to do with the current case.
DeBrigida said he also objected to statements made by a probation officer including this one: “The cruel and vicious manner in which these offenses were committed demonstrates there is another side to this woman, one who could be easily triggered to commit an unconceivable act of brutality leaving a tender young victim physically and emotionally harmed.”
DeBrigida said, “We take exception to that judge and there are people that would testify to the contrary.”
Cahill said while some of the probation officer’s statements were unnecessary, he still didn’t think it was a good reason to postpone sentencing. Furthermore, Cahill said he would base his sentencing on the evidence, not some probation officer’s ramblings.
“That is just a probation officer speaking and I don’t know why that is in there, but why does that give you the right to not have a sentencing when it has been long scheduled?” Cahill said.
“I can’t guess as to what your honor is going to consider important or not important in the presenting report,” DeBrigida said.
DeBrigida added that he did not appreciate that Sarah’s ex and the child’s father had waited until the last minute to submit a written statement.
He said he could provide statements from Sarah’s family and friends that contradict his claims, but needed more time.
Visibly frustrated, Cahill relented.
“It is a fact that people have used this (the presentencing report) to dump all sorts of garbage all over the defendant,” Cahill said. “I think it is only fair that Ms. Ryan have a chance to respond to these materials that you waited until the last minute to submit.”
Cahill rescheduled the sentencing for 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 10 in Payson.