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Delaware Defendant Gets 106 Years in Prison on Charges of Torturing Her Stepsons


A Delaware woman was sentenced to 106 years behind bars on charges that she abused and tortured her stepsons. The defense stipulated that the woman choked, punched, and kicked the boys in addition to often withholding food from them. She was accused of forcing the boys to eat their own feces among other unspeakable acts. Her husband was also charged with crimes related to child abuse and was sentenced to 49 years. Prior to the plea bargain, the stepmother was charged in a staggering 646-count complaint detailing both felony and misdemeanor charges. She ultimately pleaded guilty to 42 felonies including First-Degree Child Abuse, Kidnapping, and Strangulation.

The abuse was able to go on for a long time before the couple was held accountable. The victims were brought to several hospitals for malnutrition among other infirmities. Authorities accused the couple of “hospital shopping”—they brought the children to several different hospitals as opposed to the same one. In this manner, they were able to elude authorities for years. It wasn’t until October 2021 that authorities intervened on the children’s behalf. A doctor at Nemours Hospital for Children alerted authorities that one of the stepsons was “at imminent risk of death upon admission” from severe dehydration and believed that the child was the victim of child torture.

First-Degree Child Abuse Charges in Delaware 

The Delaware Code § 1103 defines Child Abuse charges in Delaware. An individual is guilty of Child Abuse in the Fourth Degree when they “intentionally or recklessly” cause injury to a child. This is the base offense for Child Abuse. At a minimum, a parent can be charged with child abuse when they injure their child either intentionally or recklessly. Fourth Degree Child Abuse is considered a misdemeanor under the law.

Child Abuse in the Third Degree is considered a class D felony. An individual can be charged with this crime if recklessly or intentionally cause injury to a child and:

  • The child is less than 6 years of age
  • The child has an intellectual, physical, or developmental disability
  • The injury was caused by means of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument

Child Abuse in the Second Degree is considered a class B felony. It is charged when an individual causes serious injury to a child either intentionally or recklessly and the same provisions apply to Child Abuse in the Third Degree. In other words, if the child is under 6, disabled, or a dangerous weapon was used and the child is seriously physically injured, the individual who committed the abuse can be charged with Child Abuse in the Second Degree. This charge has a minimum sentence of 5 years in state prison.

Child Abuse in the First Degree is considered a Class A felony. A person can be found guilty of this crime if they intentionally or recklessly injure a child causing permanent disfigurement, permanent impairment of health, or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily organ. The defendants mentioned above were charged with multiple counts of Child Abuse in the First Degree.

Talk to a Wilmington, DE Criminal Defense Lawyer Today 

Michael W. Modica, Attorney at Law represents the interests of those charged with serious crimes in Wilmington, DE. Call our Wilmington, DE criminal defense lawyer today to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.



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