Stepfather pleads guilty to boy's abuse

June 10, 2008 11:53:14 AM PDT
A stepfather has pleaded guilty to two counts of injury to a child for starving his young stepson while keeping the child in a locked closet. Michael Ryan, 31, has agreed to serve 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of injury to a child. Ryan stood before Judge Mike Anderson at the Harris County Courthouse Tuesday morning, withdrew his not guilty plea and said, "I'm sorry. I love my kids. It was not their fault. It was my fault."

Ryan pleaded guilty to charges of failing to provide nourishment to his 13-year-old stepson and forcing the child to do pushups and hitting him with a stick.

The child was taken to a hospital from his home on September 17. He was so malnourished that officials said he looked to be only seven years old. Doctors found a horrific number of injuries including fractures, bruises, burns, broken teeth and damage to his liver and his pancreas.

Siblings told police that boy was frequently locked in the master bedroom closet, forced to stay in the attic and fed baby formula.

Ryan will be eligible for parole, but it's unclear when his eligibility will begin because his use of a stick was considered use of a deadly weapon. Had this case gone to trial, Ryan would have faced five years to live in prison.

The child's mother, Geneva Foster, has already pleaded guilty to reckless injury to a child, a lesser charge, and she's scheduled for sentencing in two days.

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