A 6-years-old boy died after his father and stepmother starved him to death as a way of punishment.
Police say the boy’s father, Michael Roberts, and the boy’s stepmother, Georgena Roberts, deprived the boy and another child of food “as a form of punishment.”
6-year-old Liam Roberts weighed 17 pounds when police were called to a hospital Nov. 3, 2017, because the boy was dead and the staff believed it was a case of child abuse.
The boy's preliminary autopsy found him to be "extremely malnourished". The authorities are still waiting on the results of a toxicology test.
Before the sentencing, Michael Roberts said he had been working 70 hours a week to provide for the family, “but failed to provide the most basic needs to Liam.”
“Not a day goes by that I don’t regret my failures,” he said, reading from a statement. “Liam was my special little buddy. ... I know Liam is dead because I was not brave enough to protect him.”
Kim Roberts, the biological mother of Liam, spoke emotionally at the hourlong sentencing hearing in Jerseyville Wednesday morning.
"They deserve to lose their freedom and have a life sentence of sadness and sorrow," she said. "I'm heartbroken and will remain heartbroken for the rest of my life."
The couple has been charged with first-degree murder and two counts of child endangerment. Bail for each has been set at $500,000.
Michael Roberts was sentenced to 25 years. Georgena Roberts will serve 20 years, which was the lowest possible sentence after they pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.