Crime

Couple who starved 6-year-old to death in Southern Illinois to be sentenced this week

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Witnessing a crime and reporting it can be just as frightening as being the victim of a crime. Here’s what you should do if you witness illegal activity. (Nicole L. Cvetnic / McClatchy)

The Jerseyville parents of a six-year-old child who starved to death will be sentenced this week after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, according to court records.

Michael and Georgena Roberts, of Jerseyville, both 42 at the time, were both charged with first-degree murder in November 2017 in the death of their 6-year-old child, Liam Roberts, after Jersey Community Hospital called the Jerseyville Police Department . In addition, they both faced two child endangerment charges.

The Roberts both pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the beginning of November 2018, according to court records. Two other charges relating to child endangerment were then dismissed.

Court records indicate they will be sentenced Wednesday morning and the Alton Telegraph reported they both face a sentence of 20-60 years in prison.

They were originally scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19th until Michael Roberts’ attorney filed a motion to continue the hearing, according to a RiverBender report.

The BND previously reported that the child lived with father Michael Roberts and step-mother Georgena Roberts along with three siblings and two step-siblings. Police believe that the parents deprived two of the children of food as a form of punishment.

An Alton Telegraph report sated the 6-year-old child weighed 17 pounds at the time of his death, compared to the average weight of 45 pounds for a child that age.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported at the time that the child was dead when he brought him to the hospital.

A DCFS investigation was launched about a year and a half before Liam Roberts died after a report that there was inadequate food in the home, according to a statement released at the time.

“After a pediatric specialist concluded that the now-deceased child’s weight was a result of a medical condition, the investigation was closed as unfounded,” the statement read.

It is unclear how involved police had been with the family in the months prior to the child’s death, but neighbors told the Telegraph police had been to the home several times.

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Belleville News-Democrat news editor Dana Rieck was selected as Editor and Publisher’s “25 Under 35 Newspaper Leaders” for 2018 and works with the Online News Association in St. Louis. She attended Colorado State University and grew up in Loveland, Colorado.


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