'Very Horrific': Calif. Mom and Boyfriend Sentenced for Killing Her Daughter, 3, Before Stuffing Body in Freezer
"They received adequate punishment for what they did," the sheriff tells PEOPLE
A Napa, California mother and her boyfriend were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday for killing her three-year-old daughter in 2014, who was found partially frozen at the couple’s apartment after being put in the freezer, PEOPLE confirms.
Sarah Lynn Krueger, 27, and her 29-year-old boyfriend Ryan Scott Warner were found guilty last month of first-degree murder with the special circumstance of torture in the death of Kayleigh Slusher, who died from multiple blunt force injuries. The fatal injury caused a rupture in her small intestine.
The couple were also found guilty of abuse of a child under eight causing death.
“We are very pleased with the sentence,” Napa Valley Deputy District Attorney Kecia Lind tells PEOPLE. “They received adequate punishment for what they did. The crime was very horrific.”
Lind says Krueger was “visibly emotional” during sentencing in Napa County Superior Court. Warner, she says, “didn’t show much emotion but he addressed the court and maintained his innocence.”
Krueger’s defense lawyer, Jim McEntee, declined to comment. Warner’s defense attorney, Mervin C. Lernhart, Jr., could not be reached for comment.
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The investigation into Kayleigh’s death began in 2014 when Napa police received a 911 call from the couple’s friend, who had seen Kayleigh dead the night before.
Once inside the apartment, police found Kayleigh’s body in her bed. She was partially frozen.
“She was in there for at least a number of hours,” said Lind in a previous interview. “Her body was still extremely cold to the touch when the officers found her. We don’t know for sure how long she was in the freezer.”
According to Lind, Krueger and Warner had fled earlier that morning before the police arrived, but the pair was arrested the following day shortly after a woman spotted them at an IHOP Restaurant.
Lind said police found searches on Krueger’s cell phone for most populous cities in the U.S.
An autopsy determined that the young girl had 41 distinguishable injuries to the exterior of her body. “She had severe injuries and bruising to her head,” said Lind. “Essentially just all over her body, arms, legs, torso, buttocks… It was tough. The medical examiner described the amount of pain and suffering she would have been in during the time she was dying. It wasn’t a quick process.”
Lind said the beatings began months earlier.
“It appears most of the abuse took place the month or two prior to her being killed,” she said.
The couple allegedly told authorities they thought Kayleigh died after she drank something that was poisonous.
“Neither of them had any legitimate explanation for the multitude of bruises and injuries on her body,” according to Lind.
During the trial, Warner’s defense attorney, Mervin C. Lernhart, Jr., argued there was no evidence that his client abused the child or knew anything about the abuse, the Napa Valley Register reports.
During closing arguments, Krueger’s attorney, Jim McEntee, put the blame on Warner, alleging that he was the one responsible for the fatal blow that killed Kayleigh, according to the paper.
McEntee said that Krueger had used methamphetamine leading up the death of her daughter, prosecutors had said.