An Oklahoma mother has been sentenced to 30 years in prison after reportedly keeping her malnourished “extremely skinny” 30-pound, 8-year-old son on a diet of crackers.
Akemi Cox was sentenced 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 uncovered in February 2021 after a child welfare specialist contacted the Edmond Police Department about the severe neglect of an 8-year-old boy.
Neighbors had called a caseworker after seeing the boy digging in a dumpster for food, NBC’s Oklahoma City affiliate KFOR reported.
The station said the boy was just over 3 feet tall and weighed 30 pounds. Officials say he wore clothing that fits the average size of a 2-and-a-half-year-old child.
“His stomach is distended, yet he is extremely skinny, and his skin is sagging,” the case worker reported, the news station said.
At a hospital, a doctor told a case worker, “at a minimum, this case is medical neglect, possibly shocking and heinous.”
The child was placed in the care of health services. Police learned that the boy had only gained six pounds in seven years, the station reported. The parents allegedly claimed the boy was on a “no sugar” diet and reportedly only fed him crackers.
At the hospital, Cox took away food from the boy, saying it had “too much sugar,” the station reported, citing an affidavit.
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