Former Sparks Woman Goes on Trial in Adopted Son's 1974 Death
RENO (AP) - A former Sparks woman is scheduled to go on trial Monday in Washoe County District Court for the death of her adopted three-year-old son more than three decades ago.
68-year-old Catherine Wyman is charged with first-degree murder in the 1974 death of James "J.W." Bader. She has pleaded not guilty and has been free on $300,000 bail.
At the time, Wyman told police that the boy died at a Reno hospital after falling off a lawn chair. The coroner ruled the death accidental, and the case was closed.
But in 2005, the boy's older sister, Julie Dunn of Chico, California, stepped forward with new information that led to her mother's arrest.
Among other things, Dunn said she saw her mother ram J.W.'s head into a post in their backyard, and repeatedly kick and punch him in the stomach.
Wyman's lawyer denies his client abused the boy and claims her estranged daughter is a liar.
While he did not conclude the boy's death was a homicide at the time, the doctor who performed his autopsy in 1974 told a grand jury last year that he now thinks J.W. died of child abuse.