A South Dakota woman is expected to plead guilty to child abuse after two of her kids almost died from starvation so severe that one pediatrician said they looked like Holocaust victims.
Darcel Featherman, 34, is scheduled to plead guilty to felony child abuse and neglect later this month under a plea deal, the Rapid City Journal reports.
Featherman told authorities that she gave up the children to her sister and mother despite knowing that the women could not adequately care for the children. Her mother is a “lifelong alcoholic with anger issues” and her sister has been a “methamphetamine user and an alcoholic,” according to a statement Featherman provided to officials.
In 2016, Featherman left the victims — who are her seventh and eighth biological children — and then moved to Rapid City, South Dakota, and California. She acknowledged that she did not check up on the girls or provide any subsequent care.
Officers found the girls “nearly starved to death” in November 2016 while responding to a call at the home of Featherman’s mother, according to police.
The girls, ages 3 and 2, weighed approximately 13 pounds each and suffered from impaired mobility. The younger girl “could only hold her head up for a few moments before she had to resume laying (sic) down,” court records state.
The older daughter had a bedsore so severe it exposed the bone on her hip. She also had sensitivity to light, leading to the discovery that she is blind because of “chronic non-accidental trauma to her brain.”
The girls were “likely to have died within several days had they not been found,” according to a court document. A pediatrician who examined the children said they had experienced a level of starvation akin to Holocaust victims, records also show.
Featherman’s mother and sister were both found in the home and were subsequently charged with assault resulting in serious bodily injury and felony child abuse and neglect. They face life in prison, the Journal reports.
Featherman has been charged with two counts of felony child abuse and neglect and faces up to 30 years in prison. She was granted conditional release from jail, while her mother and sister remain behind bars.
The victims’ father, Isaac White Crane, was convicted of assault with a dangerous weapon in 2015 after he hit Featherman with a knife when she was four months pregnant.
The children have been placed in foster care, according to a spokesperson for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and are now around the ideal weight for their age.
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