A Washington state couple who starved a 6-year-old child, forced him to subsist off of "hot dog smoothies," forced him to work out, and deprived him of sleep have been sentenced to 20 years in prison, MSN is reporting.
The 20-year sentence is unusually long for child abuse cases, but prosecutors argued that this particular case was so extreme and so heinous that a two-decade sentence was called for.
Warning: The remainder of this post contains graphic depictions of child abuse and neglect and may disturbing to some readers.
Lori Lloyd, 31, and Christopher Sefton, 30, were convicted on March 15 of first-degree assault of a child, second-degree assault of a child, and first-degree criminal mistreatment for the abuse they inflicted upon Sefton's son, identified only as "K."
According to KOMO-TV (Seattle), by March 2014, when help finally arrived, school officials at K's school had been trying for months to bring his case to the attention of Washington's child protection services but continually failed to get results.
K repeatedly arrived at school bruised, bloodied, and emaciated, and he would often sift through school trash cans for discarded food to eat. At one point, he so voraciously ate a discarded, half-eaten muffin that he choked on it. Teachers would create a "share basket" with donated food so he could have enough to eat.
With Washington's Child Protective Services failing to help, all school administrators could do was monitor and document as the boy continually showed up to school, beaten and starved, monitoring his dramatic weight loss over the course of several months.
Help finally came when K showed up to school shaking uncontrollably. He was taken to Seattle Children's Hospital, where he was found with a stomach distended due to malnutrition.
Once Child Protective Services finally investigated K's case, what they found was even more horrific than anyone could have possibly imagined.
Authorities learned that Lloyd and Sefton would force K to subsist only on a disgusting cocktail of "hot dog smoothies" - hot dogs and vegetable oil blended together. His parents deprived him of sleep and would force him to do calisthenics, including doing push-ups while wearing a backpack filled with canned food.
Authorities say two other children in the home, Lloyd's then-7-year-old daughter and the couple's son, suffered similar abuse.
During his trial, according to a March 11 KOMO-TV report, Sefton's defense attorney tried to paint their client as a "conscientious" parent who was the victim of overzealous school administrators.
Defense attorney Joseph Richards said that Sefton caught administrators' attention for yelling at them when he was confronted about K's condition, something that he admits he shouldn't have done but doesn't mean that he was a bad parent.
"Mr. Sefton was an engaged parent and a proactive parent."
Prosecutors, however, pained a much different picture of the couple's style of parenting.
The jury was presented with evidence that Lloyd proudly recorded the young boy's injuries on video, and that the two engaged in "smug" text messages about the boy's abuse. When confronted by school officials about K's treatment, Sefton described the boy as a "demon." He also insisted that the boy's starvation diet was due to "dietary restrictions" and threatened to sue school officials if they didn't stop giving him food.
King County Superior Court Judge James Cayce sentenced the couple to 20 years, more than the normal sentence for child abuse, due to a host of "aggravating factors."
Do you think a 20-year sentence is long enough for this couple who abused and starved their child?
[Image via King County Jail]