Social Question

Arisztid's avatar

Adopted mother slowly starves quadrapalegic daughter to death (including other gross neglect), gets 10-15 years. What is your opinion of this?

Asked by Arisztid (7120points) January 15th, 2010

Shylae Thomas was rendered a quadriplegic with severe brain damage due to nearly suffocating to death in her crib. link to whole story

Her adoptive mother starved her slowly to death over the course of about a year and a half then stuffed her body in a storage area with mothballs to cover the smell. After her death she cashed at least one check for caring for Shylae for over $3000 rather than reporting the death. The body had bedsores that went through what muscle she had to the bone and was described as as emaciated as a victim of the Holocaust.

And more.

The adopted mother got 10–15 years for this.

I see this all the time on the news: parents who are guilty of deaths by neglect or even active abuse (beatings and the like) who get off with sentences like this one or, often, less.

What is your opinion of this type of sentencing? Is justice served?

(RIP Shylae)

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53 Answers

whitenoise's avatar

It makes me cry and almost forget that humanity is capable of great things as well.

Arisztid's avatar

@whitenoise Agreed. The thing is, is the justice system just? Was the “mother” sentenced correctly?

marinelife's avatar

It is a clear miscarriage of justice.

Coexist's avatar

Got what she deserved.

Arisztid's avatar

That link was not too good. Try this one.

wonderingwhy's avatar

You knowingly and purposefully let someone under your direct care and supervision starve to death over the course of months when you consistently have the capability to prevent it… how is that different from intentional murder (20 to life)?

Arisztid's avatar

@Marina Agreed wholeheartedly.
@lucillelucillelucille I am with you there.

@Coexist I do not agree. A life sentence without the possibility of parole or a death sentence is what I think she should have gotten.

@wonderingwhy Exactly! How can you NOT know what is going on as the child loses weight, the bedsores go to the bone, and more. If anyone wants me to find more about the coroner’s report stating about the bedsores, I can find it. When she was 6–8 she weighed, I think it was, about 80 pounds, died at 33 pounds.

The adopted mother said she panicked. Err, why not panic when Shylae was starving and dying? If she panicked from an accidental death, which this could not have been, why have the presence of mind to cover the body with mothballs and cash the checks?

HGl3ee's avatar

Murderer. 25 years – Life. No parol. In a cell with “Big Bertha”.

OpryLeigh's avatar

This disgusts me. How the hell is this justice? Very very sad indeed. What scares me more is that it is very likely that she won’t serve her full sentence. Let out on good behaviour and all that BS.

knitfroggy's avatar

How could someone treat a dog like that, much less a child! It literally makes me sick to my stomach!

I really think it would be a good idea to strap this sicko woman to a bed and starve her to death for a year. vigilante justice anyone?

Arisztid's avatar

@ElleBee Agreed. Big Bertha is a must.
@Leanne1986 I really do not understand how this is justice and I agree with you… she shall probably be let go on good behaviour.
@knitfroggy Booyah! I agree with you 100%! Also, due to life experience, I am a believer in vigilante justice.

You also need to gag her, blind her, completely plug her ears, not turn her so she can really know what it is like to have no voice and no external input other than agony.

ragingloli's avatar

I would like to know why she did it, so it can be prevented in the future. I find that more important than all the condemnation and cries for brutal revenge that is being called for here and that I find almost as reprehensible as the step mother’s actions.

Likeradar's avatar

Good thing gay couples can’t adopt. They’d make terrible parents!~

@Arisztid nailed it when he questioned her panicking after she starved this poor child to death.

I’ve never looked much into the adoption process- I assume there’s mental health checks before it’s allowed?

evil2's avatar

if there was ever a reason to lynch someone this is it…string her up i say…..

Arisztid's avatar

@ragingloli From what I read they established that it was a DHS failure in the first place and, I believe, failure on the parts of many people. This includes a schoolteacher who saw the child lose weight, the mother pulled her from school, and the teacher did not call anyone.

As for why she did it, from the articles that I have read, she did it for the money. This is hardly the first time such a thing has been done.

“Why” she did it is obvious and greed is part of human nature. To me the big thing is how to prevent it and, in this case, that focuses on DHS and CPS.

Another part of prevention would be appropriate sentences for crimes… equal to the crime. A slap on the wrist for this woman and all the rest tells other criminally minded people that they can go ahead and do it… they shall get what they want without consequence or with minimal consequences.

@evil2 I think making her go through what her daughter went through would be more appropriate.

Arisztid's avatar

@Likeradar According to digging into this case, the adoptive mother did not meet adoption criteria and should have been denied.

ragingloli's avatar

As for why she did it, from the articles that I have read, she did it for the money.
That is painfully superficial, and I don’t buy the claim that greed was the only cause for her actions.

Factotum's avatar

@Arisztid I don’t know that I’d call ten to fifteen a slap on the wrist but I agree she got much less than she deserved. The justice department clearly failed to charge her with the higher crime. They sometimes do that when they don’t think they will get a guilty verdict. I have NO idea how they could think they couldn’t make murder one stick. It doesn’t get more premeditated than killing someone over the course of a year.

Arisztid's avatar

@ragingloli True… there might have been sadism and/or mental disorder involved. That she cashed the checks for the girl after her death says that finance was definitely involved, however.

@Factotum I do not think that 10–15 for what I cannot imagine being other than premeditated murder and torture is enough to deter others from doing it.

ragingloli's avatar

Deterrance? Not even the death penalty deters murderers from murdering people. Harsh punishment as deterrance does not work, simple as that.

Factotum's avatar

@raginloli I imagine she did it for the relief as well. Caring for an invalid is hard and people can run out of compassion – I assume she cared for the child initially and then stopped/tapered off.

@Arisztid I agree it’s not enough to deter.

@raginloli I also agree; nothing deters the person who believes they will get away with whatever it is.

Arisztid's avatar

@ragingloli I was attacked in 2005, doing serious damage to me, the justice system let the attacker go with a month house arrest. I was told to not bother him by the court or I would face criminal prosecution… I would be prime suspect if anything bad were to happen to him. This threat of punishment kept me from getting revenge. Without being the first suspect if anything happened to this guy and with no or little consequences for my action, I would have taken revenge.

So, threat of punishment kept me from completing what society deems a “criminal act.” Considering how badly I wanted revenge, I can tell you first hand that the threat of just jailtime stopped me.

In the case above, the attacker had been gotten off of his crimes all of his life. He expected it and he kept doing such things.

Yes, the threat of punishment does not stop someone hellbent on murder, as they say, but the threat of punishment stops most or there would be a lot more crime.

If punishment was commensurate with the crime, yes, it still would not be a complete deterrent. However, it would be more so than now.

evil2's avatar

i work for a quadrapaligic in canada , and he became one because a stranger attacked him without provacation outside of a bar, the attacker stabbed him 13 times and get two years for assault with a weapon….i love the justice system

Arisztid's avatar

@evil2 Amen evil! I love it about as much as you do.

HGl3ee's avatar

Our justice system provokes violence more then it deters it.. I mean I could get right pissed off at someone at the bar and just like @evil2 said, stab a guy THRITEEN times, change his life forever and only get 2 years.. Whooptie-Doo 2 years in a jail that is more cushy then most people’s lives living on Welfare or minimum wage. Simply repulsive.

Arisztid's avatar

@Factotum You said this: “nothing deters the person who believes they will get away with whatever it is.”

That is a very good point that somehow I missed addressing.

The key here is nothing deters the person who believes they will get away with it. If the justice system worked correctly, the likelihood of people believing they will get away with it would be much less. Getting away with it not just includes not being caught. It also includes believing that, if you are caught, your punishment is going to not be that bad… which is often the case.

Again, using my attacker as an example, he was not afraid of getting caught because, all of his life, he got away with it… a slap on the wrist.

This can be seen in @evil2 ‘s example: another slap on the wrist.

That is not going to deter anyone. That is “getting away with it.”

“Even if I get caught, no biggie. Its not going to be anything serious. I mean, look at others who did {x} crime.”

Arisztid's avatar

@ElleBee Amen! It is not always so but, all too often, this is the truth.

smashbox's avatar

@ElleBee, I second that Amen.

What do I think? I am thinking about what did that poor child feel while she was slowly dying. I am thinking how much pain did she go through, and what in the heck is wrong with human beings. I am thinking our justice system is really messed up. That is what I think.

Arisztid's avatar

@smashbox I have been thinking about that too.

The girl was mute, deaf, and blind, however, she had been in a school for severely disabled children and this is not the face of an unsentient being. That is the face of a happy child who, despite her disabilities, is aware of her surroundings in as much as socialization, touch, and love. She felt pain and, working in the medical field, I know the kind of pain such things as decubitous ulcers cause, not even going into the rest..

She could not hear, see, or speak but she could feel emotions and feel pain. That child was starved and tortured by severe neglect with no voice and nobody caring.

I think of the hell that girl went through silently and the hell other victims of child abuse/neglect go through silently or their screams unheard.

HGl3ee's avatar

@Arisztid : Sadly it’s a 9/10 occurrence :( I agree there are times that the system works in the favor of justice.. but all to often the scumbag walks or get a slap on the wrists with a wimpy sentence..

People test the system over and over because they know they have a much higher shot of prancing through it all then getting their butt-kicked.. damn them!!

life_after_2012's avatar

there is a very special place in hell people like that -

Factotum's avatar

@Arisztid I agree with you and would like to see punishments properly meted out. Not the squish-judges who ‘don’t want to ruin someone’s life for a little mistake’ who invent a lot of career criminals in the process and not the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ crowd who can’t tell a marijuana offense from murder, nor hangin’ judges or ‘throw-the-book-at-him types. Just measured justice served up plain and simple.

Arisztid's avatar

@life_after_2012 Agreed. I wish that was enough recompense for Shylae.

@Factotum I agree. The entire justice system is a clusterfuck… plain and simple. I do not think it is going to change any but for the worse any time soon. The scales of justice should balance evenly… appropriate punishment for the crime and always the same punishment.

Pazza's avatar

My opinion is that the justice department got the decimal point in the wrong place.
Also someone in the social services departedment should be out on their arse in front of a judge.

And your get life for getting caught with meth-amphet three times?.......

life_after_2012's avatar

the justice system is a joke i was almost murdered at a bar here in jacksonville ,fl an ex green barret ( i know i misslet that ) guy stabbed me in my lower spine and in my belly becuase i wouldnt let him stabb another man to death – i didnt know either one of these guys – i just say a puddle of blood ans ome 40yr old guy screaming for help when i stepped my adreniline was pumping so hard i didnt know i was stabbed for about a min then i dropped to the floor and couldnt walk – myself and the old guy ( who happened to be a ex marine poking fun at the barrets ) are fine and i can walk again took 3months but im fine now – anyhow there were 8 witnesses that tstified agaisnt the defendant and all he got was time served – a girl orking at the bar said the defendant had been hitting on her all night and even tried to impress her by showing her his knife just before he stabbed me with it – his atty was bad ass – she got him off because the old guy was drunk i tested postive for weed in my system – and the other witness’ had prior felonies on thier record – messed up thing about the situation is that the bar we were at is considered a upscale bar – i had on a lacoust button up shirt with some nice dress slacks and a new pair of shiney shoes – like evryone else there – what are the chances that everyone who came to my aid would be a thug – anyhow he walked was arrested for aggravated battery and is still currently working for the dept of agruculture – so please beleav the justice system more like a financal institution helping people protect thier investments weither it be them selves or a asset to the company -

Arisztid's avatar

@Pazza Agreed.

@life_after_2012 I have a friend on another site with a story like yours.

Stories like these are proof positive that the justice system is an injustice system.

Austinlad's avatar

Torturers and terrorists—inhuman beings who harm and kill innocent people—deserve nothing less than life in prison without hope of parole.

dutchbrossis's avatar

Yet some people who grow marijuana can get like 5–10 years. No our justice system is not just, that is sick. She should have got more

daemonelson's avatar

Neglect of a dependent is quite disgusting. I’d definitely put it right out there in the ‘do not let back into society’ pile.

HGl3ee's avatar

@daemonelson : I like that “do not let back into society”.. we need to pick an island in the middle of no where and name it “DNLBIS Island”.. all these disturbed individuals can be crammed on it with a ton of coconuts.

ragingloli's avatar

Or even better, build some heavily guarded forced labour camps where they are forced to work until they die of disease or weakness. We could also use them to perform medical experiments on them and when they die they would simply be thrown into a big hole or burned in a big oven complex.

HGl3ee's avatar

@ragingloli : this sounds oddly familiar, and they sure as heck deserve it!

Arisztid's avatar

All I can say is “agree with @all” here since my last comment.

I consider the monster who did this to have tortured that girl to death.

It is a horrid statement of our society that parents who murder and/or torture their children often get off with nothing (or little commensurately) and the children, unless they are very high profile cases, are ignored or quickly forgotten.

I think about what these children go through, like an, I think it was, 6 month old baby raped, beaten, and bitten to death, or a two year old, I think it was, picked up by the legs and swung like a baseball bat into the wall… after a lifetime of abuse. And many, many more with, I am certain, most not even hitting the newspapers in any way. We shall never know about them.

I really want those “parents” to suffer commensurately. Yes, I have the makings of a vigilante as I have described above. The justice system has turned its back to myself, my loved ones and friends, just people I read about too many times.

daemonelson's avatar


A bit too far. I’m not really one to respond to cruelty with the same cruelty. However, I’m a big fan of the free labour idea.

Arisztid's avatar

@daemonelson I am a fan of the free labor idea as well assuming that the criminal is assigned as servant to the victim or victims… one victim, then the next victim, then the next victim, duration of service based on severity. If the victim does not want that person in their home, other wishes of the victim should be heeded. I take it further: I think that the victims should have a large say in how the criminal pays… within reason.

I admit that there is a huge catch in my saying that because, say, someone might want to kill a person who stole their purse or keyed their car. My big thing is the fact that the victim has no say and is often shafted.

Personally, @daemonelson, the free labor thing would have been satisfactory to me… if my attacker had had to, basically, be my servant for a few years that would have done the job (I have brain damage from the attack). Instead I got a smirk from him as he was given a slap on the wrist.

Factotum's avatar

@Arisztid All courtooms should be equipped with battery-operated smirk-detectors to let judges know they have been too lenient.

Trance24's avatar

The law seems to pay more attention to other laws rather than the protection of human life. We give murderers and rapists lighter sentences than drug dealers. What kind of justice is that? The justice system has to sort out its priorities.

Arisztid's avatar

@Factotum I could not agree more. Smirks should get specific punishments depending on the severity of the smirk and the offense commited. Ok, end fantasy.

@Trance24 Amen to that. I think the ETA of that sorting is… not in our lifetime.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The charges against her were too mild and the sentence was thus too short.

The adoptive mother’s neglect of this child was either sadistic or financially motivated.
The punishment for her behavior should have been life sentence without possibility of parole.

The legal system seems to have failed in this case.

The child welfare system is partly to blame for failing to routinely follow-up this adoption of a particularly vulnerable child.

The child welfare system is overloaded and underfunded. This is so because most people do not demand that their governments spend money on people and their needs instead of funding banks that continue to compensate culpable executives, billion dollar planes to wage war and so on.

LeopardGecko's avatar

@Arisztid – I really do feel compassion towards the poor child you died like this, but at the same time I feel nothing. I have given up all faith in the justice system, it’s not fair, and I believe it will only get worse. Our system is set up so that criminal’s who deserve to be locked away for a long time, never do. It almost protects criminal’s I try my hardest to feel anger towards the bullshit sentence she was given, but I know that if I do, I will be angry everyday for the rest of my life. I hate our justice system, I hate it from the criminal’s being tried on the outside to the way they are handled inside. It’s despicable.

Arisztid's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence All I can say is that I agree with you on all counts except that I disagree with the word “seem.” There was no “seem” about miscarriage of justice here. I can state that part of her motive was financial because she continued to cash the checks after her daughter’s death.

@LeopardGecko I have no hope in the in-justice system. The instance I described above was not the first time the justice system has turned its back on me and, personally, I do not know of anyone, other than the guy who attacked me, who has benefited from the justice system.

All as victims amongst my friends have been failed.

To say that I hate the justice system is mild.

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