GREAT FALLS, Mont. (TCD) -- A 34-year-old woman and a 33-year-old man were sentenced to life in prison this week for torturing, starving, and beating their son to death.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, a Cascade County judge handed Emilio Emmanuel Renova Sr. 100 years in prison without the possibility of parole for deliberate homicide, and Stephanie Grace Byington 100 years for accountability to deliberate homicide for the death of Antonio "Tony" Renova. She will be eligible for parole after 30 years.
Renova and Byington’s friend, Racso James Birdtail, who was reportedly staying with them at the time of the boy’s death, received five years in prison for accountability to assault on a minor and 10 years for tampering with evidence.
According to Renova’s affidavit, on Nov. 20, 2019, at 9:07 a.m., Byington called 911 to report her son was not breathing. Dispatchers reportedly talked her through performing CPR on the boy, but she reportedly said there was "blood coming out."
When Great Falls Police officers arrived, they found the boy unresponsive and bleeding from his nose and mouth. The affidavit says Tony "had blood and what was possibly brain matter on his clothing and the floor around his body."
The suspected brain matter, however, was actually "some sort of glue used to close a previous head laceration." The injury was reportedly "about the size of a silver dollar," and police said the head wound "had been closed with some sort of glue in an amateur fashion."
Officers looked through the apartment and discovered blood in and around the bathroom, including inside the bathtub. They also reportedly noted Tony was "covered in bruises" and his legs appeared "abnormal and possibly broken."
While Byington appeared distressed, Renova reportedly "was not reacting as officers would have expected for such a traumatic event."
A Great Falls Police sergeant reportedly saw Birdtail walking to an outside dumpster carrying trash bags. The officer found a "bloody rag with other 'gory stuff' on it" inside the receptacle.
According to the affidavit, Renova told police misleading statements, including saying blood on his pants was actually nail polish.
Detectives spoke with a visitor who had been staying with Byington and Renova at the time Tony died and said she heard the parents beating the little boy. The witness reportedly told police Tony had to "hold heavy cans or bottles up over his head as punishment," and Byington often recorded her son to make sure he would not put them down.
On one occasion, Renova allegedly hit the boy’s head against the ground because he wet his pants. Byington reportedly admitted to hearing Renova abuse their son.
Tony reportedly went to the doctor in February 2019 and was a healthy weight at 44 pounds. When he died, however, he weighed 31 pounds.
The Great Falls Tribune reports Tony was raised by foster parents and then given back to his parents months before he died.
Cascade County Judge Elizabeth Best said during the sentencing hearing, "These parents, whose duty was only to protect, love and care for him, were instead his tormenters and murderers. Only the heaviest punishment for them is appropriate."