Thursday, August 31, 2000
Steamboat Springs Today at 2 p.m., Geraldine Stewart will be in her Hartshorn, Mo., home praying her grandson leaves a Steamboat Springs courtroom a free man.
The decision whether Wesley Crider, a former Colorado State Patrol trooper, leaves free will be up to District Court Judge Joel Thompson.
Crider, 27, is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty in July to felony child abuse resulting in serious injury through criminal negligence.
Crider was arrested in January after taking his son, Matthew, then 9 weeks old, to a hospital in Steamboat Springs.
Doctors caring for Matthew told authorities they believed the boy had suffered non-accidental brain trauma complicated by neglect on Crider's part. Doctors also believed the infant's injuries were consistent with shaken baby syndrome.
At the time, Crider claimed his son had fallen from a futon couch at his Westwind townhouse in Hayden the night of Jan. 14.
Today, Thompson could sentence Crider to a prison term of two to eight years. If Thompson finds aggravating circumstances related to the crime, he could expand the range of a prison sentence anywhere from one to 16 years.
Crider's plea bargain preserves Thompson's ability to consider probation and no prison in pronouncing sentence.
However, Crider also faces imprisonment of one year in connection with his guilty plea to a felony bond violation that occurred in February.
The prison term could be extended to three years, if Thompson finds aggravating circumstances in that crime.
If Thompson were to sentence Crider to prison on the child abuse charge, the bond violation sentence would be served consecutively.
"There are too many prayers going up," said Stewart, who is Crider's maternal grandmother. "I think God will take care of him. I expect him to walk out a free man.
"I will be praying during the hearing."
For support, Crider will be joined in the courtroom today by his mother, Shirley, brother, Kevin, and others, Stewart said.
Stewart described her grandson as a father who would never hurt his children. Along with Matthew, Crider has an older son, Austin.
"He would not hurt one of his kids," she said. "He would kill himself before he would.
"This has been terrible for the family. I wish he had never seen Colorado."
Crider is originally from Missouri and moved to this state about three years ago, Stewart said.
According to an arrest warrant, Crider told authorities he became frustrated dealing with the "colicky baby," the night in question.
He reportedly told authorities he might have handled the baby a little roughly around the chest, the warrant states.
After the infant was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center, he was flown to Children's Hospital in Denver.
A CAT scan performed there showed signs of internal trauma and evidence of "extensive internal devastation to the infant's head," Crider's arrest warrant states.
The infant was later released from the hospital. The District Attorney's office has used the term "brain dead" to describe the infant's condition.
Currently, the boys live with their mother, Jacie.
"I came out in May and June, and I was hoping to see the grandkids, but I was not allowed," Stewart said.
Crider had been a trooper for two years. Following his Jan. 16 arrest, he was placed on administrative leave. He resigned from his post Jan. 31.
Crider moved to Routt County from Glenwood Springs in 1998 to take a job with the state patrol based in Steamboat Springs. He has a degree in criminal justice from Southeast Missouri State.
To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org