Oklahoma Department of Corrections investigators have recommended that Rebecca Hogue – convicted of first-degree murder after her then-boyfriend killed her son – not receive any jail time.
The investigation, led by DOC’s Edna Diggs and Shawna Rannells and detailed in Hogue’s pre-sentence investigation report, found that Hogue, who was convicted of first-degree murder by allowing child abuse , should not spend time behind bars, and that “Incarceration does not seem to be a sufficient deterrent at this time.”
On January 1, 2020, Hogue’s son, Jeremiah “Ryder” Johnson, died in the care of her then-boyfriend, Christopher Trent.
Trent — the only suspect the Norman Police Department was pursuing in Johnson’s death — was found dead by suicide on Jan. 4, 2020, on the Wichita Mountain Reservation.
“Hogue appears to be mentally challenged and based on the information compiled during this investigation and this officer’s observation, it appears that Hogue would benefit more from a long-term residential treatment facility to target his mental health, his grief and trauma,” the report said. “Based on the information compiled in this investigation and this officer’s observation, it is recommended that Rebecca Hogue be sentenced to a long-term residential treatment facility.
“It is further recommended that upon release from a treatment facility, Hogue be sentenced to a period of probation supervised by the Department of Corrections.”
The document is not public on OSCN but is available upon request from the Cleveland County Clerk’s Office.
The report also detailed in detail that investigators did not find Hogue to pose a threat to the community, given the nature of the crime for which she was convicted.
“Hogue does not appear to pose a threat to the community, but does appear to pose a threat to its well-being,” the report said. “If released into the community, Hogue would benefit from parenting classes and a long-term mental health treatment program.”
Investigators described Hogue as “remorseful” and said she “appears to be emotionally distraught” and “going through grief”.
Investigators also referred to a Nov. 3 transcript item that reported that Cleveland County Assistant District Attorney Pattye High told the judge in the absence of the jury, “There is no way the State to prove that when [Hogue] said she didn’t know [about abuse]that she actually knew her son was being abused.
Hogue and those close to her have maintained throughout her trial that she did not know Trent was abusing her son.
Jurors were told that to find Hogue guilty, they had to know beyond a reasonable doubt that she knew or reasonably should have known that abuse was occurring that would ultimately lead to her son’s death.
This isn’t the first time investigators have come to the conclusion that Hogue shouldn’t face jail time or even be charged with first-degree murder for enabling child abuse.
Prior to his trial, the lead detective in his son’s death, Normandy Police Detective Sean Judy, expressed strong skepticism that Hogue would be charged.
In a recording obtained by The Transcript in 2020, Judy can be heard saying this is a “sh—” case and noting that when the DA’s office tried to get the NDP to press charges, the service police refused, saying there was no case.
Judge Michael Tupper barred the jury from hearing a taped conversation between Judy, another detective, and a friend of Hogue, in which Judy said he did not believe Hogue had committed a crime.
Judy said that even if he didn’t want to, he would at most submit a clearance charge. The prosecutor’s office declined this recommendation.
“[The assistant district attorneys] said, ‘Well, we’re not going to do that. If you send [an enabling charge]then you torpedo our chances of getting a murder charge,” Judy said in the recording.
Judy was instructed by the district attorney’s office on January 11, 2020 to end the investigation, as Trent, who murdered Johnson, had already been found dead.
Hogue was convicted Nov. 3 of first-degree murder for enabling child abuse. The jury recommended a sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole.