An Oklahoma woman who starved her preschool-aged children and forced them to eat dog feces has been spared prison time, instead being given two suspended sentences.
As Dallas-Ft. Worth's KTVT reports, Mary Elizabeth Moore, 34, took a plea deal in which she pleaded no contest to child neglect charges. A "no contest" plea essentially means that she does not admit guilt but will still be punished for her crimes.
Back in April, as Tulsa World reported at the time, Moore was initially jailed on child neglect charges. Staff at Tulsa's Saint Francis Hospital noticed that Moore's two children, aged 5 and 3 at the time, were severely malnourished. The 5-year-old child weighed 26 pounds and his or her 3-year-old sibling weighed 18 pounds.
So malnourished were the children that they were placed in the intensive care unit and fed through nasal feeding tubes. Even then, the kids developed what's called "re-feeding syndrome" -- that is, a condition that sometimes develops in people who have been severely malnourished, causing metabolic disturbances such as neurologic, pulmonary, cardiac, neuromuscular, and hematologic complications, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Once healthy enough to be interviewed, the older child described to investigators in exacting detail the horrors he or she endured at Moore's hands.Specifically, the child said that Moore's boyfriend would sometimes throw bottles at them. He or she also said that Moore would force them to eat dog feces, an allegation that was confirmed when authorities found parasitic worms ordinarily found in dog feces in the child's own stools.
As it turns out, Moore had been on the radar of Oklahoma's Department of Human Services for some time. The criminal affidavit against her noted the following.
"DHS records indicate a long withstanding history of failure to thrive cases brought up against [Moore]."
Specifically, the younger child had been diagnosed with "failure to thrive" at 4-months-old "due to protein-calorie malnutrition, not being provided enough calories."
During her interview with child welfare authorities, Moore denied starving the kids and feeding them dog feces, and she got angry with the interviewer and left.
Moore was sentenced to two prison terms of seven years, but those sentences are suspended, which means that she'll be kept out of prison as long as she keeps to the terms of her probation. She's not to have any contact with her children, according to Tulsa World, except as allowed by the conditions of her guardianship case. However, in Oklahoma, the details of guardianship cases are not made public.