Couple jailed for 25 years for starving son, 16, until he weighed just 37lbs

Huffington Post | Oct. 25, 2011

Bryan and Tonya RicksA couple has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for child abuse resulting in serious bodily harm and failure to provide medical attention.

Tonya and Bryan Ricks, from Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty to starving their teenage son until he weighed just 37 pounds and leaving his seizure disorder untreated for five years.

Doctors say that he would have suffered from as many a 12 seizures a day which, compounded by malnutrition, left him bedridden, incapable of speech and unable to support his own body weight.

he teenage boy was found in his own urine and faeces in 2009.

The other five children, age six months to ten years, were also taken into custody and were severely malnourished.

According to KKTV, the couple made an emotional appeal to the judge prior to the sentencing, asking for mercy and expressing remorse over what they put their children through.

Tonya Ricks said: 'I am truly, truly sorry for putting them in this situation. It would mean a lot if they (her children) could hear it from me.'

Though the judge applauded them for pleading guilty and not putting their children through the trial, he said it did not outweigh the 'severe, continuous abuse'.

Their 16-year-old son wrote a letter asking for a lengthy sentence which was read out to the court on Monday.

According to KKTV, he wrote: 'I'm hoping my parents go to jail for a very long time for what they did to me.'

The problem was first noticed by a Colorado Springs electrician in 2008.

Robert Stout told 11 News he reported the living conditions to police and was most concerned about the boy.

He described him as being 'frozen' and did not even flinch when a fly landed on his face.

He said he did not know if the boy was alive, he was so still.

'The thing I thought of was my son, that I would hope that somebody would call for my son if he was ever in trouble. So that's why I had to call somebody, just to look in to see if what I saw was right.'

Doctors testified in court that all six children were severely malnourished and had health problems which went untreated for years.

They had rotting teeth, brittle hair and alligator-like skin. They also suffered from viruses, infections, and many of the girls had asthma.

When taken from the home, two of the girls were suffering from fevers of more than 100 degrees.

One of the girls had a heart condition called ADT, a hole in the heart. The boy suffered from untreated daily seizures, numerous each day.

Neither of the children could hold a fork, tie their shoes or even owned a toothbrush.

They are all now in foster care.

The foster mother of the 16-year-old said he has gained 60 pounds since he was taken from the home but 'may never be able to walk again or live on his own'.

His feet are turned in, from lack of growth and development, inhibiting his ability to walk.

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