An Albion, Indiana man who admitted to murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl he had been babysitting was sentenced Monday morning to 65 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.
Trevor L. Wert, 42, pleaded guilty to a murder charge earlier this month as part of a plea deal where a felony charge of child molesting was dropped.
Wert apologized to the court before a Noble County judge handed down the maximum sentence his plea deal would allow.
Wert lived next door to Railee’s mother, Misty Matson, in Albion. They had children the same age and on the night of Oct. 31, he looked after Matson’s daughter while she was at work.
“I trusted him,” said Matson. “You know most people trust their neighbors. You know, you think you can go over and ask your neighbor for a cup of sugar or an egg… we did that with each other.”
Wert babysat Railee a number of times before but this time would end in tragedy. Noble County Prosecutor Eric Blackman called this one of the most brutal cases of child abuse and neglect that the county has ever seen.
Railee Ewing was unresponsive when she was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital on November 1 where she died.
Doctors said the toddler had signs of possible abuse, including “significant” bruising.
“You know the bruising was down to the bone,” said Blackman. “She had a couple of broken ribs. Injuries that you’d see in a car crash. That’s how brutal this attack was. That’s what it was. She was attacked. She was beaten to death.”
During an interview with police, Wert reportedly admitted to beating young Railee because he was angry with her, Blackman said.
According to court documents, Railee died of blunt force trauma and had injuries that would indicate sexual assault.
Wert’s public defender Jim Abbs said he just snapped.
He was undergoing medical treatment and prescribed pain medication at the time. He ran out of that medication, which Abbs believed played a role in the attack.
“Because he didn’t have the pain medication, because woken up in the middle of the night, he reacted to a situation, and as he said, reacted totally wrong and tragic to that situation,” said Abbs.
Wert was emotionless throughout the hearing. He stood up and told the judge he was sorry and that he does take responsibility for his actions. He never turned around to address the family directly.
“Not a tear,” said Matson. “It was his normal voice. He’s not sorry. He’s not sorry one bit. But when he goes to prison he will get his.”
Emotions were high on both sides of the courtroom with some tense moments after the judge decided Wert’s sentence.
“The family of the young girl was very emotionally distraught and that’s understandable when you lose such a young child,” said Abbs. “At the same time [Wert’s] family realizes that essentially what they believe now is a life sentence for him.”
Cheers could be heard in the courtroom after the judge handed down the 65 years in prison sentence. That was followed by a profane outburst by Matson, who sobbed through most of today’s hearing.
“Every holiday my baby is not going to be there,” she said. “I don’t get to sit across or next to her, I don’t get to watch her open gifts for Christmas or her birthday. None of that.”
Matson along with other family and friends read victim impact statements to the court. Wert’s family submitted letters to the judge, however none of them took the stand.
Earlier this month, Wert pleaded guilty to killing Railee. As part of the plea deal, the prosecutor agreed to take the death penalty off the table and the possibility of life without parole.