RENO — A 67-year-old woman was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1974 death of her 3-year-old adopted son in Sparks.
Catherine Wyman awaits sentencing Aug. 15 in Washoe County District Court after a jury found her guilty Friday of the death of James “J.W.” Bader.
The evidence was more than enough to prove J.W. died of child abuse, Chief Deputy District Attorney Karl Hall told jurors.
Medical experts said it was a “classic case” of child abuse that slipped through the cracks, and would have resulted in an arrest if investigated today because of advances in forensic science and greater awareness of such cases.
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.
In 2005, the boy’s older sister, Julie Dunn of Chico, Calif., stepped forward with new information that led to her mother’s arrest.
Dunn testified that she saw her mother slam the boy’s head into a fence post, beat him with belts and kick him in the stomach.