Judge sentences parents to 7 years in prison for caging autistic - KMOV.com

Judge sentences parents to 7 years in prison for caging autistic son

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Terry and Victoria Smith were each charged with 1st degree endangering the welfare of a child after police found their 6-year-old autistic child locked in a make-shift cage in the basement of their O’Fallon, Mo. home. Terry and Victoria Smith were each charged with 1st degree endangering the welfare of a child after police found their 6-year-old autistic child locked in a make-shift cage in the basement of their O’Fallon, Mo. home.

by Associated Press and KMOV.com staff

ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) - A couple from O'Fallon, Missouri was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to each pay a $500 fine for keeping their autistic son inside a makeshift cage.

A jury last month recommended seven years in prison for 45-year-old Terry Smith and his 44-year-old wife, Victoria. Both were found guilty of child endangerment. An anonymous call tipped authorities in December 2010, when the boy was 6.

When police, paramedics and a case worker responded, the boy's grandmother was watching him and five siblings. Authorities say she led them to the basement, where the autistic child was in a 3-foot-by-6-foot crib covered with a plywood top and held together with bungee cords and zip ties. Investigators said the child was naked and sitting in feces and urine.

Victoria Smith's father says he believes the sentence was "a terrible injustice." Sources in the courtroom say Victoria Smith was visibly upset and cried at times during the sentencing, however the boy's father, Terry, did not show a great deal of emotion.

The defense attorney argued that the Smiths were perfect candidates for probation and said they had an opportunity to fix the problem. But after the judge denied the motion for a new trial, he said he found no reason to go against the jury's wishes. A prosecutor also accused them of using their children to get state aid. Victoria and Terry Smith have six children. It is still unclear what will happen to the kids. 

The Smiths claim they could not get enough support from the state to take care of their son. After the trial, the two parents were immediately taken into custody.

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