Thursday, February 24, 2011

Kansas mother accused of starving her son with Down syndrome will face attempted murder charges

From Fox 4 TV in Kansas City:

OLATHE, Kan. — A De Soto, Kansas, woman accused of starving her disabled son, will face attempted murder charges after first attempting to plead guilty to two lesser counts before backing off at the last minute.

Rachel Perez (pictured), 27, is accused of leaving her 6-year-old son, who has Down syndrome, locked in an attic without food. She is charged with attempted second-degree murder, child abuse and child endangerment.

Perez had tried to plead guilty to the lesser counts of child abuse and child endangerment. Defense attorneys were hoping to prevent prosecutors from seeking an upward departure at trial, where her sentence could be doubled if she is convicted. The judge agreed to the plea, under the condition that Perez waive her right to a jury trial. Perez's lawyers then backed off.

On Feb. 22, a video-taped interview with Perez's 5-year-old daughter and a social worker was played in court, where the girl said that her mom wanted to keep her brother's condition a secret, and that the boy, who weighed just 20 pounds when he was discovered by Johnson County Sheriff's deputies last August, had been left in the attic many times.

Deputies came to the house because the boy's grandparents hadn't seen him alive in weeks. Perez told deputies the boy was with his dad.

A doctor testified on Tuesday that the boy had only gained two pounds in the last five years, and would have died within 24 hours if he hadn't been found by authorities.