Kayleigh Slusher Murder Trial

Ryan Scott Warner and Sara Lynn Krueger were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Krueger’s daughter, 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher.

Convicted of 3-year-old Kayleigh Slusher’s murder, the girl’s mother, Sara Lynn Krueger, and her former boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, have both filed notices of appeal.

They were sentenced on July 27 to life in prison without the possibility of parole for Kayleigh’s murder. Although the basis for their separate appeals has not been disclosed, both defendants maintained their innocence through sentencing.

Napa Police found Kayleigh’s cold body on Feb. 1, 2014 at Krueger’s apartment at 2060 Wilkins Avenue in Napa. The little girl had bruises all over her body as well as internal injuries. According to court testimony, Kayleigh died from complications of mesenteric contusion and small intestinal hematoma caused by fatal child abuse and neglect.

Krueger and Warner, who had left Kayleigh’s body behind while they fled from Napa, were arrested in El Cerrito a day later.

After a trial that lasted about a month, two separate juries found Krueger, 27, and Warner, 29, guilty of murder, torture and assault on a child causing death.

Warner’s attorney, Mervin C. Lernhart, filed his notice of appeal on July 27, the day of sentencing. Krueger’s attorney, Jim McEntee, filed her notice on Aug. 1.

A notice of appeal had to be filed with the court within 60 days of judgement with the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco.

Krueger and Warner, who were both represented by court-appointed attorneys during their trials in Napa, both requested that new court-appointed attorneys be assigned to their appeals.

The appeals court may appoint attorneys through the First District Appellate Project, a nonprofit law office based in Oakland.

How long the appeals process takes depends on the county and the circumstances of the case, said Sharona Gottlieb, assistant deputy clerk for criminal appeals at the 1st District Court of Appeal. The appeal can lead to an affirmation or partial affirmation of judgment or, she said, the judgement can be revoked, partially revoked or remanded with direction.

After the court makes a decision, the case can then be appealed to the Supreme Court of California.

At the time of sentencing, both Krueger and Warner maintained their own innocence. In a statement read by her attorney, Krueger said that she never hurt her daughter and seemed to blame Warner for Kayleigh’s injuries.

“I didn’t know he hurt her,” she said.

Warner also made a statement to the court, in which he said that he was not guilty and that any hatred felt toward him is “misdirected.”

“I did not cause any harm to this child,” Warner said. After addressing the court, Warner told Judge Francisca P. Tisher, who presided over the trial, that his notice of appeal was ready.

Krueger is currently being held at Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, according to the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation. Warner is being held at San Quentin State Prison.

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Maria Sestito is the former Napa Valley Register public safety reporter. She now writes for the Register as a freelancer.