Woman convicted of starving children had a baby while on bail
New information could mean a harsher sentence in the case of a woman convicted of starving her adopted daughters.
In August 2018, 31-year-old Echo Terry was found guilty of 12 felony counts, including three counts of second-degree assault for withholding food from the girls. The jury also found that aggravating factors applied to the case, meaning the maximum sentence she faces increased from six years to 30.
Terry was back in court this week as her attorney, Mary Burnell, and Assistant District Attorney Reid Schweitzer heard from witnesses about a child that Terry gave birth to while she was awaiting trial on the assault charges.
Official court log notes of an evidentiary hearing on Wednesday detail witness testimony from medical professionals who say Terry gave birth to a baby boy while awaiting trial.
Schweitzer said there’s a possibility that the new information will increase Terry’s sentence for her convicted crimes.
The notes indicate the child was born in the 50th percentile when it comes to weight, but diagnosed with failure to thrive after he continuously lost weight and dropped into the second percentile by about 6 months old.
There were concerns the child was not getting appropriate nutrition at home and he was hospitalized.
Terry’s son was removed by the Office of Children’s Services and placed into foster care with Nathanial Buck, a member of her church.
The log notes indicate Buck testified Wednesday that the boy came to live with him and his family in September 2018 and gained about a pound per month.
Terry had been on an ankle monitor for more than 900 days during her case. On Friday, prosecutors questioned Dennis Johnson, the owner of Alaska Pretrial Services, as to whether Terry had reported medical appointments that she attended.
“Our requests were, did Ms. Terry have any, was anybody aware of any pediatric appointments, well-baby checks, prenatal or OB-GYN appointments? The answer to that is, no, there were none,” Johnson said.
Prosecutors say more testimony needs to be heard before Terry’s sentencing, which is now set for March 28, but may be delayed even further.
All four girls who were dangerously malnourished and previously taken from Terry’s home were adopted by Dr. Melissa Shein and her husband Dimitri. In September 2014, Dr. Shein found the oldest girl on a trail near the Alaska Native Medical Center. She thought the child was about 6 at the time, but later learned she was 10.
Dimitri was in the courtroom Friday and says the girls are doing well and he hopes to see Terry receive the maximum sentence for her crimes.
“My family really wants closure in this case and the only reason we are here is because the convicted felon continues to torture children,” Dimitri told the courtroom. “She tortured another infant and I don’t think that’s right, and I don’t think she should be torturing children while she is on bail.”
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