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Murderer Marries Victim’s Mother After Sentencing

Times Staff Writer

Minutes after Thomas Wyrick was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison Thursday for murdering a 2-year-old girl, he borrowed the courtroom to marry the victim’s mother.

The bride, Sally Martinez, whose daughter Natalie died in 1983 while in Wyrick’s care, believes Wyrick’s claim that the child’s injuries were the result of his attempt to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation after she became ill, Wyrick’s lawyer said.

Orange County Superior Court Judge James Cook sentenced Wyrick, 34, of Santa Ana for second-degree murder and then permitted the couple, surrounded by several family members and friends, to use his courtroom for their wedding ceremony.

The wedding was performed by a Mormon bishop. Wyrick was taken back into custody immediately afterwards.

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Wyrick’s attorney, Al Stokke, contended that the girl died of Reyes syndrome, a brain disease, and that the death could have been related to small amounts of cocaine found in the child’s bloodstream, which he claimed someone other than Wyrick might have given the child.

But a pathologist testified for the prosecution that the child had been severely beaten and that caused her death. A firefighter who was present at the crime scene testified that Wyrick admitted having punched the girl in the stomach.

Wyrick’s first trial ended in a mistrial after jurors could not agree on a second-degree murder conviction. A second trial was halted last December for technical reasons almost before it began. Wyrick was convicted earlier this year at his third trial.

Cook on Thursday denied a motion by Stokke to reduce the conviction to manslaughter, then sentenced Wyrick to the standard term for second-degree murder.

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