A Wyoming man accused of some of the most heinous crimes imaginable has now pled guilty to murdering his ex-girlfriend's son.
On Wednesday, Wyatt Dean Lamb, 27, pled guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the 2021 death of Athian Rivera, who was just 2 years old when he died. Athian's mother, Kassandra Orona, who was living with Lamb at the time, reported the boy missing in February of that year. Shortly thereafter, little Athian was discovered in a dumpster near the apartment that Orona and Lamb shared. He was covered in a fitted sheet and five plastic garbage bags.
A report from the medical examiner indicates that Athian was also the victim of horrific abuse, as he was found with bruises on his head, back, stomach, arms, and chest. Perhaps even worse, his genitals, groin area, and upper legs were severely burned, and investigators later found a blowtorch at the apartment and believe Lamb used it to torture Athian before he died. The coroner determined that Athian's cause of death was brain swelling resulting from blunt force trauma, restriction of oxygen, or both, according to Law & Crime.
At the time of Athian's death, Lamb was out on bond after Athian's mother, Orona, accused Lamb of strangling her in 2020. While out on bond, Lamb was ordered not to live at the residence, and there was reportedly a bench warrant out for his arrest for violating that order. Athian died shortly thereafter.
At the hearing in Laramie County District Court on Wednesday, Lamb pled guilty to second-degree murder for the death of little Athian. In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of 45 to 60 years in prison for that offense. In addition to the murder plea, Lamb also gave an Alford plea — that is, no contest — for one count of felony child abuse against Athian and for one count of strangulation of a household member in connection to the domestic violence incident with Orona. Prosecutors had initially leveled 10 counts of child abuse against Lamb, but amended the charges to accord with the plea agreement reached with Lamb's attorneys.
Lamb reportedly claimed that he never intended to kill Athian, but allegedly admitted that he experienced "incredible anger" when the boy threw some food. Lamb said he then covered the boy's mouth so that he would "pass out," not die, reports say. Lamb also allegedly explained that he was "heavily intoxicated" during the 2020 domestic incident with Orona.
Prosecutors will recommend that Lamb serve eight to 10 years for the child abuse conviction and eight to 10 years for the strangulation conviction in addition to the murder sentence. Prosecutors will recommend that he serve the sentences consecutively, beginning with the strangulation sentence. A judge will make the final determination about Lamb's various sentences.
"We sincerely hope that these pleas begin to provide healing and grace to (Athian’s) mother and (Athian’s) family from the horrific events that occurred on February 18 to February 19, 2021," special prosecutors Michael Blonigen and Pat Crank said in a statement. "The pleas allow the family to not have to relive and be further injured by Lamb's murderous behavior and the trauma of a trial."