By Mead Gruver | Associated Press
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man accused of burning a toddler with a butane torch, killing him and disposing of his body in an apartment complex dumpster in February has had his bail set at $1 million.
The bail was set for Wyatt Dean Lamb, the boyfriend of the boy’s mother, after he made his first court appearance Tuesday in Cheyenne when he was formally informed of the charges he faces.
Lamb, 27, was not asked to enter a plea to one count of first-degree murder and 10 counts of child abuse in the death of 2-year-old Athian Rivera.
Lamb could face the death penalty but prosecutors have not said if they plan to seek it.
Athian went missing on Feb. 19, triggering a search that ended about two hours later with the discovery of his body wrapped in a sheet, blanket and five trash bags in a dumpster near the apartment where he lived, according to a police investigative affidavit filed in court.
The boy’s injuries included numerous abrasions and bruises on his head, back, chest, belly and arms — and burns to his groin consistent with a butane torch found in the apartment where the boy lived, according to a summary of the coroner’s findings in the affidavit.
The details about the boy’s injuries and cause of death were not revealed until this week, when the police affidavit was made public in court.
Lamb had been living with the boy’s mother, Kassandra Orona, and her three children in the apartment, Orona told investigators, according to the affidavit.
Orona and Lamb used the two-burner butane torch to smoke marijuana, she told investigators.
The size and shape of the torch’s burners “appeared very similar to the shape and size of the burns on Athian,” the affidavit said. The boy died two to four hours before he was found of blunt force trauma, lack of oxygen to the brain, or both, the coroner concluded.
Orona told police that Lamb was watching her three children the night before her son was killed while she worked a sandwich shop shift, court documents said.
She told investigators she arrived home at about 3:30 a.m. and was later awakened by Lamb, who wanted her to drive her daughter to school a few minutes away because the girl was running late, according to the documents.
After Orona and Lamb got back, Orona told investigators that she went back to bed. Lamb woke her up just after 12 p.m., saying Athian was missing, according to her account provided to investigators.
Lamb told police he returned to his apartment after Orona got home from work but returned by taxi later that morning when Orona called and said Athian was missing. Police said they went to an address where Lamb previously lived but that he had moved out in August 2020, court documents said.
And several taxi companies contacted by investigators reported no record of a trip that day to Orona’s apartment, police alleged in court documents.
Lamb was arrested and jailed after Athian’s body was found but on unrelated charges. He faced bond revocation related to a 2020 charge of felony strangulation of Orona and with misdemeanor property destruction and interfering with a peace officer.
Orona had missed a hearing in that case last summer and had been prohibited from living with Orona, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.
Lamb’s attorney, Ericka Smith, didn’t immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment her client’s case.