The Justice Files: Daughter refuses to forgive mother for killing sister

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TOOELE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Even before she was born Baylie Rutherford had a target on her back.

15-months after her birth, she was dead. Her mother, April Carter never wanted her around, according to Carter’s other daughter.

In January, Carter pleaded guilty to reduced charges related to the murder of Baylie. Tuesday, she returned to court where she was sentenced 1-15 years in prison.

The 30-year-old mother never explained why she did this, but an older daughter, whose name will not be revealed, offered some insight at Carter’s sentencing hearing.

“Before she was even born April immediately hated Baylie from the time she found out she was pregnant,” said the older daughter. “She said right off the bat, she hopes she loses the baby.”

The older daughter, age 11, along with Baylie and 3 other siblings, ages 6 months, 3 and 5, were removed from Carter’s care due to their living conditions and had moved in with a foster family.

A month prior to Baylie’s death, the baby had been returned to the care of her parents by DCFS.

In 2017, Wendover police were called to a report of an unresponsive child. When police arrived, the determined Baylie was already deceased and described the living conditions as “detestable.” The autopsy showed the toddler had injuries all over her body, including head trauma, spinal damage, broken ribs as well as cuts and bruises.

During an interview with police, the child’s father, Nicholas Rutherford, said he had returned home to find Carter holding Baylie, who was not breathing. He attempted to perform CPR and asked Carter to call 911, which she refused. In an attempt to shield the other children from seeing their sister, Rutherford said he grabbed them and put them in a cab to take them to their grandmother’s home in Wendover, Nevada.

Documents state the child’s grandfather was also in the home who said he was just there to babysit and had not been to the couple’s home in three weeks. He said he did notice the baby had bruising on her head and back, which appeared to be older.

Carter told police she had tripped and fallen onto the child but Rutherford told police Carter had mentioned the night before that if anything was found in the autopsy, she would confess. When he asked her what that meant, she would not give him an answer, documents state.

During Tuesday’s sentencing, Carter’s daughter asked the judge that her mother serve the maximum sentence allowed.

“She will never have my trust and a lot of other people’s trust again,” said the daughter. “I have forgiven her too many times. Murdering my sister is something I refuse to forgive. She’s a horrible person.”

Carter spoke for the first time about her baby’s death during sentencing.

“I do take responsibility,” Carter said moments before she was sentenced. “I want you to know, like I know I’ve failed all my children and I know it’s going to be hard on everyone. And I just wish I would have been there more.”

April Carter during Sentencing Tuesday

Other family members, including Rutherford, asked that Carter spend at least 15-years in prison.

Judge Diana Gibson agreed with the daughter’s plea. She sentenced Carter to 1-15 years behind bars but recommended she spends all 15 years in prison based that on the history of Baylie’s injuries.

“The amount of physical violence that was inflicted on this child over time and the night of her death demonstrates to this court a level of cruelty that to me, goes beyond simple criminal negligence, a failure to supervise or a failure to protect,” Judge Gibson said.

Outside the courtroom, the daughter and her step-dad, Nicholas Rutherford embraced. Her foster parents also offered hugs with the daughter’s relatives. There was a sense of justice that had been accomplished.

“We recognize that nothing that happens today is going to change what happened to Baylie or any of the suffering she experienced or it won’t bring her back,” said Becky Cunningham, the foster mother. “We just wanted to see justice served.

She said the sentence was the best they could hope for.

Judge Gibson refused to give Carter credit for the three years she has been in jail. The judge can only recommend how much time Carter should serve as part of her 1-to-15 year sentence. The final decision lies with the Utah Board of Pardons.

Nicholas Rutherford was also charged with obstruction of justice and desecration of a body for failing to inform social services or law enforcement about Baylie’s injuries when they occurred and for not calling 911 himself when he returned home that day.

He will be back in court March 31 for a scheduling conference.

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