A Mills man facing accusations that he played a role in the extreme abuse of his son took the stand in Natrona County District Court on Thursday.

Ryan L. Hilyard is charged with aggravated child abuse and child abuse in Natrona County District Court. His wife, Sarah Hilyard, has pleaded no contest to attempted second-degree murder and child abuse for her role in the August 2020 incident.

If convicted, Hilyard could face up to 35 years behind bars.

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Court documents allege that the Hilyard had a blended family. The aggravated child abuse charge alleges that Ryan Hilyard's biological child (who was 12 at the time of the incident) suffered injuries so severe that he will likely never be the same again. A doctor told investigators that if the child hadn't been brought to the hospital when he did, he likely would have died. Further, Ryan Hilyard's biological child had to have part of his skull removed due to the severity of his head injuries.

Meanwhile, the simple child abuse charge alleges that Sarah Hilyard's biological child was forced to participate in the abuse of Ryan Hilyard's child. One game they played, prosecutors say, was compared to ping pong and involved forcing Ryan Hilyard's child to run up and down the stairs, or they would push him down.

Taking the stand on Thursday, Ryan Hilyard said he and Sarah Hilyard had a happy marriage. Ryan Hilyard said he worked 80 to 90 hours each week and had not seen his son in the days before he was taken to the hospital.

On the evening of August 2, 2020 Ryan Hilyard said he was watching TV when he heard a thumping sound near the stairs to his basement. When he got up and investigated, he said he saw his son lying in the landing.

Ryan Hilyard testified that he checked his son for a concussion to the best of his abilities. Everything seemed fine.

But on August 6, 2020, Ryan Hilyard testified, he was at work when his wife called him to tell him his son was unresponsive and needed to go to the hospital. Ryan Hilyard said he immediately went home to watch over his extended family.

It was until trial preparation that Ryan Hilyard's attorney, Rob Oldham, showed him photographs of his child's injuries. Ryan Hilyard said he was stunned.

"It made me sick to my stomach," Ryan Hilyard said. "That's my firstborn. That's my baby. I can't believe anything like this even happened.

"I can't believe Sarah is capable of this."

But earlier in the trial jurors heard about a different version of Ryan Hilyard from two of his and Sarah Hilyard's shared children.

On Wednesday, jurors heard an audio recording between a Mills Police detective, a Wyoming Department of Family Services investigator and one of the children.

In the audio, a child tells investigators that Ryan Hilyard has a history of violence and abuse. The child claimed that Ryan Hilyard would pick them up by their throats and slam them against the wall.

Ryan Hilyard testified that he only spanked one of the children once for playing with matches in their home.

A child also told investigators that, following the 12-year-old going to the hospital, Ryan Hilyard instructed them to lie to police and say the child simply fell down the stairs.

Ryan Hilyard denied that.


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