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The Supreme Court will take up the case of Krissy Werntz, convicted of the murder of her child due to abuse by her spouse, the court announced Aug. 11.

The state court will resolve the question whether sufficient evidence supports her second-degree murder conviction based on a failure to protect.

Briefing on the case is deferred until the Court rules on People v. Collins.

Werntz was charged with one count of murder in 2009.

Her spouse, Jessica Hann, was charged with murder and assault of a child.

They were each convicted of their charges.

A jury returned Werntz’s guilty verdict on April 8, 2014, and she was sentenced to 15 years to life.

Werntz is seeking to be resentenced under Penal Code Section 1172.6. The section undercut a theory under which people could be convicted of murder. Previously, a person could be convicted if they committed a crime that was likely to, and did, result in a murder, even if the murder was carried out by another participant in the crime. The section also allowed people previously convicted of murder under that now-defunct theory to have their sentence changed.

Werntz petitioned to be resentenced under Section 1172.6 on Jan. 11, 2019. Riverside Superior Judge John Molloy denied her petition, and she appealed.

The Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One, affirmed Molloy’s ruling in a published opinion April 27.

A Feb. 2, 2016, slip opinion, laid out the facts of the case: Hann and Werntz had three children together. Hann had beaten them – two of them to the point of death. The couple put their children’s remains in Tupperware containers and traveled with them throughout the United States. The remains of their 10-week-old were found in February 2002 after being abandoned in an Arkansas storage facility.

Their remaining son, who was 1 month old, had been beaten twice but survived.

Case information

Riverside Case No. INF066465

Appellate Case No. D079771

Supreme Court Case No. S280278.

Read the appellate ruling here.


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