Texas woman Elizabeth Ramsey, a stepmother who starved her 10-year-old stepson to death, received life in prison for the crime. The 33-year-old must serve 30 years in prison before she can be eligible for parole.
Ramsey's sentence was handed down Wednesday by a Dallas County jury, which took less than an hour to find the woman guilty of intentional serious injury to a child in the death of Johnathan Ramsey. ABC News reports that Ramsey's husband, 35-year-old Aaron Ramsey, is already serving a life sentence in his son's death.
Prosecutors alleged that the couple locked the boy in his room, starved him slowly on a diet of bread and water, then dumped his emaciated body in a rural area near Dallas in 2011. The body was found in a creek the following year after his grandfather, Edward Ramsey, contacted police to ask them to search for the child.
The boy's biological mother, Judy Williams, and other relatives told police they had not seen Johnathan in months. Aaron and Elizabeth Ramsey initially told police that the boy had gone to live with his mother. Eventually, they confessed to starving him.
Police added that Aaron Ramsey told them he put the boy on "military rations" after he started misbehaving. The boy allegedly punched his stepmother in the stomach while she was pregnant, causing a miscarriage. Court records say that Ramsey hit Johnathan in the chest, then locked him in a bedroom.
Jurors in stepmother Elizabeth Ramsey's trial heard testimony that she was not pregnant after all.
The Dallas Morning News notes that relatives testified at Ramsey's sentencing hearing Wednesday that they were still struggling to move past the 10-year-old's death. Dallas County prosecutors pointed to the stories when they asked the jury to impose the maximum sentence for the boy's stepmother. Prosecutor Erin Price stated, "As you sit here knowing that Johnathan Ramsey's life mattered, he died not knowing it."
Ed Ramsey testified Wednesday that calling police to report his son was one of the hardest things he ever had to do. He added of Johnathan's death, "I don't get to see my grandson anymore. I'll never get to see him play ball. I won't get to see him graduate from high school."
Defense attorney Paul Johnson contended during the trial that Elizabeth Ramsey was kept from reporting Johnathan's starving to police or trying to help him. During closing arguments Wednesday, Johnson asserted, "The evidence in this case was clear that Elizabeth had a role in this, but Aaron Ramsey was the self-described monster in this case."
In handing down the sentence, jurors said that Aaron and Elizabeth Ramsey were equally responsible for Johnathan's death.