An Iowa woman convicted of confining her boyfriend’s 8-year-old son under basement stairs has been sentenced to a year in jail, but with time previously served while awaiting trial, she could be be released within three months or less.
The Courier reports that the sentencing portion of the trial for Traci Tyler, 40, concluded on Friday in a Hardin County courtroom. She was convicted of false imprisonment after initial kidnapping charges she faced were lessened. The presiding judge said the conviction came after the prosecution proved “the confinement substantially increased the risk to (the child).”
The suspect was also accused of hitting the child and starving him, but the judge ruled that were was no evidence of malnutrition and no evidence of “intent to cause serious injury.”
The boy’s father, 30-year-old boyfriend Alex Craig Shadow, is scheduled for separate trial on June 24.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, the alleged abuse was discovered in 2017 after teachers at Ackley Elementary School noticed the victim was underweight for his age, had patches of hair missing, and constantly asked for something to eat. School officials became worried when the child’s hunger seemed “insatiable.”
— Globe Gazette (@globegazette) April 27, 2019
When the boy told school officials he was locked in a basement at home, they contacted Iowa Department of Human Services. Social workers made an unannounced visit to the home and took pictures of the small room.
Tyler reportedly told social workers that she placed in the room at night only for his “because of his bad behavior and food-stealing.” Prosecutors argued that the only time the boy wasn’t in the small enclosure was when he attended school or when he was made to carry a rock-filled backpack around the house.
“She said she had caught him peeing down the vent in the floor of his room, and he would destroy her kitchen when she was not awake — he just didn’t listen,” child protective worker Carol Allen said during trial last week.
“At first, I just watched for behaviors, but then after getting to know him I was a little shocked, because he did not exhibit any of the behaviors she had said.”
Iowa DHS contacted authorities and reported the child was being abused. Ackley Police Chief Brian Shimon said police took the boy from the home. During their investigations, detectives noted that the small room had no lighting. Shimon said the little boy had been “locked in a dungeon,” in the dark.
Further, Tyler is accused of hitting the boy with a flyswatter and telling him a dead dog was buried in the room, while encouraging another dog to attack the child.
During trial, a video was played for the jury, that showed the young boy desperately wanting a restroom, screaming in pain before urinating on himself, while Tyler was present.
In a 30-page decision issued Wednesday, Judge James Ellefson found Traci Lynn Tyler guilty of false imprisonment, a misdemeanor, instead of first-degree kidnapping. The charge is punishable by up to a year in jail, instead of life. https://t.co/fh1rtuYDot pic.twitter.com/JetX6uoW7d
— The Courier (@wcfcourier) April 11, 2019
For seven minutes, the child screamed in pain while holding his groin area, according to the cellphone video shown in court on Friday. He shuffled around, bent himself over, and cried out while someone continued to record the agonizing incident.
Assistant Attorney General Tyler Buller said the boy eventually “loses control of his bodily functions and urinates,” while Tyler can be heard in the background.
The video, according to an Iowa DCI agent who found it, came from Tyler’s cellphone. Similar videos that lasted around 30 seconds were also found on her phone.
Defense attorneys said that the video wasn’t being displayed accurately. They argued that Tyler was given advice by “medical professionals” who allegedly told her the little boy needed to ask for permission to use the bathroom before going, as he was urinating and defecating in various places in the home because he didn’t like living with his father and stepmother.
“She was desperate. She was trying to figure out what was wrong with this child,” Tyler’s lawyer, Aaron Siebrecht, said. “At the end of the day, there is no intent, there is no injury, there is no kidnapping.”
Hardin County Attorney Darrell Meyer argued that not only did Tyler punish the boy unreasonably, but she had “no justification” for confining the child to the small room under the stairs, described as “a coffin.”
The room reportedly measured 6.6 feet long and 5.7 feet wide. The door had a metal lock on it. Tyler allegedly took away the boy’s pillows and blankets, explaining to a social worker that “he just ruins those things, so he doesn’t get those things.’”
“There’s no justification for that. It’s just unfathomable that a parent could treat a child this way,” Meyer said.
Despite testimony and evidence, Tyler received a misdemeanor conviction, punishable by up to on year in jail.
“I don’t know if it’s lack of remorse, or if, Ms. Tyler, that you just don’t get it,” the judge said Friday. “There was never any realization that what you had done to this child was wrong.”
[Featured Image:Traci Tyler, Hardin County Jail]