HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut mother who withheld food from her autistic teenage son until he died weighing just 84 pounds (38 kilograms) was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison.
Katiria Tirado, 34, of Hartford, was also sentenced to five years of probation by a judge who said the mother “failed to provide her son with the basics necessary for life.”
Tirado pleaded guilty in March to manslaughter under the Alford doctrine, meaning while she doesn’t agree with all the state’s evidence she acknowledges there is enough for a conviction.
Her nonverbal son, Matthew, had been vomiting for several days when Tirado sent a text to her sister in the early morning hours of Feb. 14, 2017, that said “looks like he is dying,” police said. But she did not call 911 for another 36 minutes.
Matthew was taken to a hospital where he died hours later. He was 5 feet, 9 inches tall (1.75 meters), weighed 84 pounds and had cuts and bruises on his body, according to authorities. The medical examiner said the cause of death was “fatal child abuse syndrome with dehydration and malnutrition.”
His 34-year-old mother screwed cabinets shut and locked the refrigerator, police said.
Matthew had to dig through the trash for food and drank oils and condiments, according to an investigation by state Child Advocate Sarah Eagan.
The family was being monitored by the state Department of Children and Families, but Tirado refused the department’s help and barred anyone from seeing her son, and under state law the agency lacked the authority to force her to cooperate.
Tirado was struggling with her own mental health issues, her lawyer, William O’Connor said.
Tirado turned down an opportunity to address the court.
“She is very remorseful. She does grieve,” O’Connor said.