An Oklahoma mother has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after apparently keeping her “extremely skinny” 30-pound 8-year-old son undernourished on a diet of crackers.
Akemi Cox was sentenced on Thursday after pleading guilty to one count of child neglect.
She and her fiancé, Valerio Garcia, were arrested in 2021. Garcia’s charge was dismissed at the state’s request.
The case was discovered in February 2021 after a child protection specialist contacted the Edmond Police Department about the severe neglect of an 8-year-old boy.
Neighbors had called a social worker after seeing the boy digging through a dumpster for food, NBC Oklahoma City affiliate KFOR reported.
The station said the boy was just over 3ft tall and weighed 30lbs. Officials say he was wearing clothes that fit the average height of a 2.5-year-old child.
“His stomach is distended, but he is extremely thin and his skin is sagging,” the social worker reported, according to the news station.
At one hospital, a doctor told a social worker, “At a minimum, this case is medical negligence, perhaps shocking and abhorrent.”
The child was entrusted to the care of the health services. Police learned the boy had gained just six pounds in seven years, the station reported. The parents reportedly claimed the boy was on a ‘sugar-free’ diet and only gave him crackers.
At the hospital, Cox took food from the boy, saying it had “too much sugar,” the station reported, citing an affidavit.
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