A former Sparks woman was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for the beating death of her adopted son 33 years ago.
The death of 3-year-old James "J.W." Bader was ruled accidental in 1974 by a coroner with no medical training, despite an autopsy that said his intestines had ruptured and caused a fatal infection.
At the time, Catherine Bader, now known as Catherine Wyman, claimed her son was injured when he fell off a lawn chair.
But the case was reopened more than three decades later when Wyman's estranged daughter, Julie Bader-Dunn, told investigators Wyman routinely abused the developmentally disabled boy. She came
forward in 2005 after the death of her father and multiple bouts with cancer.
A forensic pathologist reviewed J.W.'s autopsy and said he was severely abused and was a homicide victim. Wyman was arrested last
year in Arizona, where she was living.
During Wyman's trial, Bader-Dunn testified she saw her mother repeatedly kick J.W. in the stomach, ram his head into fence posts
and slam toilet seats on his genitals.
She said she had been too frightened to come forward as a teen and feared her father, a Reno firefighter, would kill her mother.
Wyman, 67, was convicted by a jury in June of second-degree murder.
"A young life was snuffed out," Washoe District Judge Jerome Polaha said during sentencing Wednesday.
Afterward, Bader-Dunn said she was relieved.
"I felt pity, remorse and sadness. She is my mother," Bader-Dunn told the Reno-Gazette Journal.
"J.W. is resting in peace now. He's happy."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)