Prosecutors Won't Say if Death Penalty Sought for Man Accused of Setting Toddler on Fire

Prosecutors will not say if they will seek the death penalty for a Wyoming man accused of setting his girlfriend's toddler on fire with a butane torch and killing him, according to the Associated Press.

Wyatt Dean Lamb, 27, faces a first-degree murder charge and 10 counts of child abuse after Athian Rivera, 2, was found dead in a dumpster on February 19 near the apartment where Lamb lived with Rivera's mother, Kassandra Orona, and her two other children. Lamb is also accused of dumping the boy's body.

Orona told investigators the butane torch found in her apartment was used for smoking marijuana with Lamb. The shape and size of the torch's burners "appeared very similar to the shape and size of the burns on Athian," the coroner's findings said in a police affidavit filed in court.

The toddler's body had numerous injuries, such as abrasions and bruises, and he also suffered blunt force trauma and a lack of oxygen to his brain. Lamb made his first court appearance Tuesday and had bail set at $1 million.

Dumpster Where Toddler Was Found Dead
Prosecutors will not say whether they are seeking the death penalty for Wyatt Dean Lamb, who is accused of killing his girlfriend's toddler. In this February 22 photo, stuffed animals and notes of condolences are seen attached to a fence around a dumpster at the Cheyenne, Wyoming, apartment complex where the 2-year-old boy was found dead. Mead Gruver/AP Photo

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Lamb was formally informed of the charges he faces in a court in Cheyenne. He was not asked to enter a plea to the charges he faces.

Athian went missing on February 19, triggering a search that ended about two hours later with the discovery of his body wrapped in a sheet, blanket and five trash bags in a dumpster near the apartment where he lived, according to a police investigative affidavit filed in court.

The boy's injuries included numerous abrasions and bruises on his head, back, chest, belly and arms—and burns to his groin consistent with a butane torch found in the apartment where the boy lived, according to a summary of the coroner's findings in the affidavit.

The details about the boy's injuries and cause of death were not revealed until this week, when the police affidavit was made public in court.

The boy died two to four hours before he was found.

Orona told police that Lamb was watching her three children the night before her son was killed while she worked a sandwich shop shift, court documents said.

She told investigators she arrived home at about 3:30 a.m. and was later awakened by Lamb, who wanted her to drive her daughter to school a few minutes away because the girl was running late, according to the documents.

After Orona and Lamb got back, Orona told investigators that she went back to bed. Lamb woke her up just after 12 p.m., saying that Athian was missing, according to her account provided to investigators.

Lamb told police he returned to his apartment after Orona got home from work but returned by taxi later that morning when Orona called and said Athian was missing. Police said that they went to an address where Lamb previously lived but that he had moved out in August 2020, court documents said.

And several taxi companies contacted by investigators reported no record of a trip that day to Orona's apartment, police alleged in court documents.

Lamb was arrested and jailed after Athian's body was found but on unrelated charges. He faced bond revocation related to a 2020 charge of felony strangulation of Orona and with misdemeanor property destruction and interfering with a peace officer.

Orona had missed a hearing in that case last summer and had been prohibited from living with Orona, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported.

Lamb's attorney, Ericka Smith, didn't immediately return a phone message Wednesday seeking comment on her client's case.