Mother of emaciated girls sentenced to 44 months
The Associated Press
WICHITA, Kan. — A Wichita woman whose two stepdaughters were discovered last year in what was described as an advanced state of starvation has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison.
A judge Friday sentenced Jennifer Wood to three years, eight months in prison. Wood's abuse of the two girls, ages 6 and 7, was so severe that they could have died if there had not been intervention, District Judge Douglas Roth said.
On May 2, Wood pleaded guilty to two counts of felony child abuse and one count of aggravated battery. Falk and Roth noted that the guilty plea spared the two children from having to appear in court.
Wood, now 28, could be released from prison in about 27 months. Roth said she would receive credit for the 11 months she has been held in the Sedgwick County Jail, and she could receive credit for good behavior in prison.
The girls were removed in July 2006 from the south Wichita home where they lived with Wood and her husband, Alex Wood, and Jennifer Wood's two biological children, who were 4 and 8 years old.
Alex Wood, who has pleaded guilty to two counts of child abuse, faces sentencing Thursday.
A social worker called police after finding the emaciated girls. Temperatures at the time topped 100 degrees, but a doctor who examined the girls said it appeared they hadn't had anything to drink in three days and had not eaten in six days.
Police said the home was well-stocked with food. Jennifer Wood's two biological children were adequately fed but were also removed from the home.
Alex Wood traveled frequently for business, and his two daughters told police they ate only when he was at home.
School officials said they had reported concerns about the girls to social workers starting 10 months before the father and stepmother were arrested.
The case prompted an investigation that led to reforms in the way state workers look into reports of child abuse, and several people in the Wichita child-protection office were disciplined for their handling of the case.