Rebecca Hogue’s son Jeremiah “Ryder” Johnson died on January 1, 2020, in Norman, Oklahoma, while Hogue was at work. Ryder, who was just two-and-a-half years old, was in the care of Hogue’s boyfriend at the time, Christopher Trent.
The Norman Transcript reported that three days after the toddler’s death, on January 4, 2020, Trent was found dead by suicide in the Wichita Mountain Reserve. He was the only suspect the Norman Police Department had been investigating in Johnson’s death. In July 2020, Hogue was arrested on charges of first-degree murder by permitting child abuse under Oklahoma’s “Failure to Protect” law.
Hogue’s case was explored on the third season of A&E’s “Accused: Guilty or Innocent?” and followed the young woman in the buildup to her trial. At the end of the episode, viewers learned that Hogue was found guilty of first-degree murder by a jury, with the defense team explaining that several pieces of key evidence were not able to be shown to the jury. At Hogue’s sentencing hearing, however, a judge suspended her life sentence down to 16 months.
Where is Rebecca Hogue today? Is she in jail?
Hogue Was Found Guilty But a Judge Suspended the Majority of Her Sentence
Hogue was found guilty of first-degree murder by permitting child abuse during a jury trial, which also recommended the sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole. The jury was unable to see some important pieces of evidence in the trial and the defense’s concern about how Hogue’s case would be represented was a driving factor in deciding to appear on “Accused.”
Hogue’s attorney Andrew Casey told Heavy their concerns first started when the state decided to “pursue confidential grand jury charges (which are irregular in Oklahoma) because they could not get a detective to sign off on charges.” The state also pushed to ban video cameras from the courtroom. “We were happy to participate [in ‘Accused’] and allow a more public defense to be available to Rebecca that shows her and Ryder’s side of the case,” Casey explained.
The jury recommended a life sentence in November 2021 following Hogue’s week-long trial, but Cleveland County District Judge Michael Tupper decided to suspend the majority of her sentence down to 16 months at her February 2022 hearing. The 16 months would represent each year that Johnson would have been in Hogue’s legal care, Tupper explained. Due to her time served, Hogue’s sentence was shortened to 13 months, and she is set to be released from prison in 2023.
Casey explained that Hogue and her defense team’s reaction to Tupper’s sentencing decision was “shock.” He told Heavy, “We asked for a significantly reduced sentence but Oklahoma is not a place where mercy comes easily. I fully anticipated a more harsh outcome and prepared everyone for that outcome.” By the end of the lengthy sentencing hearing, they were “as exhausted as we were surprised” by Tupper’s ruling, he shared. “After that, relief poured out from everyone.”
Hogue is currently serving the rest of her prison time at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center and her attorney shared that they will not be appealing her conviction.
Hogue Is Doing Well & Is Looking Forward to Her Release & Has Decided Not to Appeal the Conviction
According to Casey, Hogue is doing well at the correctional facility. “My visits with her have been very uplifting and she is taking significant time to cope with the loss of her son,” Casey told Heavy. “She can’t wait to be home and we can’t wait to have her back.”
Hogue’s attorney explained that they will not be pursuing an appeal due to the difficult nature of the trial and its impact on Hogue. “The presentation of evidence and the brutal way Ryder’s body was shown to the jury during trial discouraged Rebecca from wanting a second trial,” he explained. He said Hogue had no desire for “her baby’s privacy revealed to another jury in such a fashion again.”
Additionally, a successful appeal would mean that they would have to go through another trial, which comes with the risk of Hogue being found guilty once more and sentenced to more prison time.
Casey described the trial they already went through as “long, heartbreaking, and a complete rollercoaster.” He shared, “this case could easily have been three to four episodes” due to the amount of “sub-stories” in the case. “I was very moved by the way [the show] told Rebecca and Ryder’s story and know there’s still so much to say. I’m very thankful for the hard work they put in to tell about Rebecca and Ryder.”
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