Nottingham woman on trial, charged with starving child
DOVER - One of the women accused of starving a young child from 2008 to 2010 was on trial Tuesday at Strafford County Superior Court.
Peggy Starr, 57, of 165 Stage Road in Nottingham, has been charged with a Class A felony count of assault after she allegedly helped her daughter, Christina Thomas, deprive the boy of nutrition.
The boy was in the care of Thomas and Starr because his mother, who will not be named to protect the identity of the child, was living with Thomas in New Durham at the time. According to her testimony, there were a number of adults and seven children living inside the house at the time of the alleged abuse.
By the time the state removed the boy from the home at six-years-old, he was just 23 pounds.
Public defender David Betancourt tried to insinuate on Tuesday morning that the child's mother hurt the boy as well. She disputed his statements as she was cross-examined.
"I never abused my son," the woman said. "If I spanked him, I was told to spank him, or I was told to give him a cold shower."
Betancourt also tried to play down the fact that the boy was kept in dog kennel and chained to a bunk bed. He said the child was confined to keep him from injesting poisons or "getting into things."
"It wasn't meant to be a jail or prison for him?" Betancourt asked the woman. She said that originally it was not meant to be used as a severe form of punishment, but that is eventually what happened as the abuse worsened.
Betancourt also asked the woman about how much time Starr stayed at the house. He claims she was not there for much of the abuse.
Starr was taking night classes at Hesser College in Concord at the time.
The woman said that when the abuse began, people would sneak food to the boy in the dog kennel, but eventually he started getting sick when he ate, and threw up.
Thomas was convicted by a jury of her peers in February of 2013 and is serving up to 30 years in prison for her crimes.
Judge Steven Houran listened carefully to Betancourt's cross-examination. Starr waived her right to a jury trial, and he will be the one to decide her fate.
Starr's trial is expected to last two to three weeks.