Parents of Montana boy, 5, sentenced for his beating death

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

GREAT FALLS, Mont., July 26 (AP) – A Montana man was sentenced Tuesday to 100 years in prison without the possibility of parole for the November 2019 beating death of his 5-year-old son. The boy’s mother and a family friend were also sentenced for their roles in the death of Tony Renova.

Tony had a gash on his head, had been bleeding from the nose and mouth, had bruising all over his body and had dropped from 44 pounds (20 kilograms) to 31 pounds (14 kg) in the nine months since he had been returned to the custody of his biological parents from foster care, charging documents said.

Great Falls Police officers found videos on his parents’ phones showing the boy being punished by being required to hold cans or his arms over his head and another showing the boy getting hit in the head or slapped for wetting himself.

“I have concluded that in this case we have three people here who in their own ways made the very short life of a child into a life of misery, worse some might think than death itself,’” Judge Elizabeth Best said, Montana Right Now reported.

Emilio Renova Sr., 33, had pleaded no contest to deliberate homicide in April. The trials of the defendants were delayed due to the pandemic and all three eventually reached plea agreements.

The boy’s mother, Stephanie Grace Byington, 34, was sentenced to 100 years in the Montana Women’s Prison with the possibility of parole after serving 30 years for accountability to deliberate homicide. She was sentenced to a consecutive 10 years for criminal child endangerment.

Racso Birdtail, 25, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accountability to assault and evidence tampering. Birdtail was carrying a bag containing bloody items and alcoholic beverage cans to the garbage when officers arrived, court records said. A witness reported Birdtail also egged Renova on while Renova beat Tony.

Tony had been living with a foster family since shortly after he was born. He was returned to his biological parents in early 2019, officials have said.

BCHS 1992 and 1972 reunions

The BCHS classes of 1992 and 1952 will hold separate reunions this weekend, Aug. 5-7. For more information, contact Pam Schield for the Class of 1992 (304-629-7806) or Robyn Walker for the Class of 1972 (406-683-5326).