Tonya and Bryan Ricks, from Colorado Springs have been sentenced to 25 years in prison for abusing and starving their child resulting in serious bodily harm and failure to provide medical attention.
Tonya and Bryan Ricks pleaded guilty to starving their teenage son until he weighed just 37 pounds (17 kg) and leaving his seizure disorder untreated for five years.
According to doctors, the teenage boy would have suffered from as many as 12 seizures a day which compounded by malnutrition, left him bedridden, incapable of speech and unable to support his own body weight.
Tonya and Bryan Ricks’ son was found in his own urine and faeces in 2009.
The couple’s other five children, age six months to ten years were also taken into custody and were severely malnourished.
Tonya and Bryan Ricks made an emotional appeal to the judge prior to the sentencing, asking for mercy and expressing remorse over what they put their children through, KKTV reported.
“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,” Tony Ricks said.
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”.
Tonya and Bryan Ricks’ 16-year-old son wrote a letter asking for a lengthy sentence which was read out to the court on Monday.
“I’m hoping my parents go to jail for a very long time for what they did to me,” he wrote.
The Ricks family problem was first noticed by Robert Stout, a Colorado Springs electrician in 2008.
The electrician told 11 News he reported the living conditions to police and was most concerned about the boy.
Robert Stout described him as being “frozen” and did not even flinch when a fly landed on his face.
“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.”
All six children were severely malnourished and had health problems which went untreated for years, doctors testified in court.
The children had rotting teeth, brittle hair and alligator-like skin and also suffered from viruses, infections, and many of the girls had asthma.
Two of the girls were suffering from fevers of more than 100 F when they had been taken from the home.
Another girl had a heart condition called ADT, a hole in the heart and the 16-year-old 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. All children are now in foster care.
According to the foster mother, the 16-year-old has gained 60 pounds (15 kg) since he was taken from the home but “may never be able to walk again or live on his own”.
The teenager’s feet are turned in, from lack of growth and development, inhibiting his ability to walk.