Woody found guilty on 16 counts of
Wichita Falls, TX – The Burkburnett stepmother accused of child abuse and child torture was found guilty on 16 counts of injury to a child, including three first degree felony charges.
Sara Anne Woody, 25, is facing five to 99 years, or life in prison, after six men and six women determined she caused serious mental deficiency, impairment or injury for “engaging in pattern of child abuse and/or torture” with her two stepsons and her oldest daughter.
It took more than 11 hours of deliberations for the jury to reach its verdict, which was announced by 30th District Court Judge Bob Brotherton just after noon Wednesday.
In addition to the first degree felonies, jurors found Woody guilty on 10 total counts that included striking her oldest stepson on the lip with a metal spoon and on the shoulders and face with a tent pole.
The other three counts involved her younger stepson. She was found guilty of striking him on the tooth with a metal spoon, holding a lighter under his tongue for lying and hitting his genitals with a belt for wetting the bed.
She was found not guilty on 10 counts of injury to a child.
The abuse came to light when the oldest stepson was taken to the United Regional Health Care System emergency room on March 30, 2016, with a severely bruised upper lip.
Despite being told by the boy and his father, Jonathan Darrell Woody, that the boy had fallen while roughhousing with his brothers, Dr. Jeremy Sautner told jurors about two weeks ago that he believed other signs were missing from an injury that was caused by a fall.
Sautner said the boy would have also injured his chin or nose, which would have hit the concrete also during a normal fall. The bruising around the eyes was also alarming to the medical professional.
To a physician, Sautner said, it was the “classic definition of a red flag for child abuse.” By law, he is a mandatory reporter of suspected abuse. He filed a report with local law enforcement.
During closing arguments Tuesday, Woody’s defense attorney Reggie Wilson told jurors his client was a loving, Christian mother who “picked up these kids when no one else wanted them.”
“Those four children need and deserve a mother like Sara in their lives,” Wilson said, speaking of Woody’s four biological kids. “…You’re the ones who can save these children from a life without their mother.”
Prosecuting attorney John Gillespie argued Tuesday that it was time for the jurors to “face evil” and believe that people like Woody exist in the world who will abuse children.
Gillespie said Woody only cried for herself and not her victims while on the stand. The rest of her testimony, he said, felt “very rehearsed and she had an excuse for everything.”
The punishment phase of the trial began at Wednesday after lunch and is scheduled to continue at 9 a.m. Thursday.