Matthew Wagoner, the 31-year-old dad of one-year-old Zoey Wagoner, could spend up to 105 years in prison after a Hancock County, Indiana, jury found him guilty Thursday afternoon of brutally murdering his baby daughter just two weeks after her first birthday, according to multiple media reports out of Indiana.
#BREAKING Jury finds Matthew Wagoner guilty of murder of one-year-old daughter, Zoey https://t.co/N10UuuUB8Y pic.twitter.com/zLrYbYfsQFBut according to investigators, and the findings of medical pathologists who examined Zoey's tiny body, the little girl "lived in Hell" for her short time on the planet, thanks to non-stop beatings and abuse by Wagoner and, they allege, his then-wife Jessica.
— RTV6 Indianapolis (@rtv6) January 28, 2016
Jessica Wagoner, who filed for divorce from her husband days after the couple were arrested last May 29 at their home in Greenfield, Indiana, is set to stand trial on murder and neglect charges in the killing of Baby Zoey next month, according to a report by WISH-TV in Indianapolis.
An aunt of Zoey Wagoner created the moving memorial video below for the slain little girl, and posted it to YouTube.
According to trial coverage provided by the Greenfield Daily Reporter, pathologist Dr. John Cavanaugh testified Wednesday that though Zoey had numerous, severe wounds, she was killed by injuries to her abdomen — injuries that an earlier medical report said were indications that someone had stomped on the little girl.
Zoey endured a blow that caused painful lacerations on her liver, damage to her intestines, and other internal abdominal organs, the pathologist testified. Someone also struck her on the back of her neck hard enough to cause bleeding on her brain, Cavanaugh testified.
Cavanaugh also testified that the sickening and extreme internal injuries that caused the little girl's death could not have resulted simply from a fall out of bed — but they occurred sometime in the hours before she perished.
The jury also saw chilling photos of Zoey's body, taken during her autopsy, revealing the numerous bad cuts and other wounds that covered her.
Matthew Wagoner, prosecutors said, changed his story numerous times starting with his initial interviews by police detectives on the day that Zoey died. He at first claimed that he never noticed the numerous injuries — including bruises throughout her body and two partially healed broken arms found — by the autopsy.
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But he also accused Jessica Wagoner of hitting Zoey with extreme force on multiple occasions. In addition, he told police he suspected that Zoey's babysitter, Krista Coffin, was abusing his daughter.
Coffin testified on Tuesday that it was, in fact, she who called 911 after she arrived at the Wagoner house to find Matthew alone with the child, which she said was a rare occurrence. Wagoner was distraught and refused to call for help, she said.
The babysitter also testified that she was involved in an extramarital affair with Matthew Wagoner.
Jessica Wagoner had two children from a previous relationship who also lived in the house. Records show that she lied to police at first, saying that Matthew Wagoner did not live in the home — fearing that the children could be removed due to child molestation charges that are still pending against Matthew Wagoner.
The dad is accused of sexually abusing his own nine-year-old daughter and her friend, in an incident from 2013.
After being found guilty in the murder of little Zoey Wagoner, Matthew Wagoner will be sentenced on February 24. He faces up to 65 years on the murder conviction, and another 40 on the child neglect guilty verdict. Prosecutors said that they plan to push for the two sentences to be served back-to-back, resulting in a maximum 105-year prison term.
[Photos via WRTV Screen Capture, Facebook]