HOUSTON – An attorney for the stepfather accused of killing the toddler known as `Baby Grace' said Thursday that his client didn't kill the girl, and blamed her mother for mischaracterizing what happened.
Kimberly Dawn Trenor unfairly pinned the blame for 2-year-old Riley Ann Sawyer's death on her husband, Royce Clyde Zeigler II, the attorney said.
"The death of this innocent child, however, was absolutely not caused by any action attributed to my client," Neal Davis III said in a statement.
Trenor's attorney, Tommy Stickler Jr., wasn't immediately available for comment, his secretary said.
The couple was charged Wednesday with capital murder and tampering with evidence, and could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted.
Riley's identity was a mystery for weeks after a box holding her tiny body washed ashore in Galveston Bay. Her paternal grandmother in Ohio led police to Trenor, 19, and Zeigler, 24, after seeing a police artist's rendering of the girl.
She was nicknamed `Baby Grace' as authorities sought to find out her identity.
Trenor told Galveston County authorities that she and her husband of less than two months beat the girl with leather belts, held her head underwater in a bathtub and threw her across a room, her head slamming into a tile floor. She said they kept her body in a shed for one to two months before dumping it in the bay.
Trenor's attorney told reporters shortly after the two were arrested that Zeigler had lost control while disciplining Riley for failing to say "please" and "yes sir."
Davis initially declined to comment on Trenor's account beyond saying it wasn't credible. But on Thursday, he released a statement saying her "misstatements" led to Wednesday's indictment.
Zeigler "is positively not guilty of the offense for which he stands charged," Davis added.