— seattlepi (@seattlepi) April 22, 2016
Two parents from Auburn, Washington have been sentenced to two decades in prison for starving and physically abusing their six year old son.
Christopher Sefton and Lori Lloyd had subjected Sefton’s son to both physical and psychological abuse. At home, they had often deprived the child of sleep, and forced him to do calisthenics.
The child was often fed hot dog smoothies mixed with vegetable oil, and teachers at school had found the emaciated child looking through the trash-cans for food.
“They were using food to torture him,” said senior prosecutor Cecelia Gregson, the Seattle PI reports. “It has the added benefit of trying to kill him, but it was a very effective form of torture.”
Help finally arrived in March of 2014, when the boy had to be taken to the hospital after Sefton gave the boy a beating for not tying his shoelaces properly, which caused him to shake uncontrollably.
At the hospital, they found that the boy had a swollen belly—a symptom of malnutrition—and swollen joints.
The boy told investigators that his parents sometimes forced him to do push ups while wearing a backpack filled with canned food.
Staffers at school tried to feed the child, who was losing weight, but his parents told them not to, and referenced “dietary restrictions.”
“People ask, ‘How can someone abuse a child?'” Gregson said during the trial in March. “I ask, ‘How could all these good people sit by and do nothing?'”
Sefton had described the child as a “demon” to school workers, and the couple had exchanged texts on how they abused the child.
The couple had received a much lengthier sentence than what was normal for their crimes, which was justified on the grounds of deliberate cruelty that the child had suffered.
“Judge Cayce held that to give the standard range would be to ignore the jury’s imposition of multiple aggravating factors and would not result in a fair or just sentence,” Gregson said. “He found that 20 years was warranted in this case because it was exceptional in every way.”
The boy and his two siblings, who were also mistreated, have been placed in other homes since their parents were arrested.