HOUSTON (KTRK) --A Fort Bend county father and step-mother are accused of serious crimes for the way they allegedly punished their seven-year-old son and then refused to get him the medical attention he needed as a result.
Marie Horton, 27, is accused of injury to a child. She was just indicted by a grand jury following the September incident. According to court documents she was punishing the boy because she believed he lied about pulling the fire alarm at school. The boy told detectives that Horton filled the bath in their Waterview Estates home with water, held down his hands and put her foot against his legs to keep him in the tub. He says she told him, "If you don't stay in, I'll make you sit in the tub." Then he said she asked, "Why did you pull the alarm" and "Please tell me why so you can get out."
The burns were so bad, he told investigators, his skin was coming off immediately after he was finally let out of the tub. Doctors said they were second and third degree burns on his feet.
"Being a parent, that's not reason for punishment. You don't punish a child like that. That's abuse. Period," said neighbor Michelle Leban.
In court documents, Horton claims she turned on the water and left the bathroom, insisting she only realized something was wrong when she heard a fall and the boy screaming.
She's a registered nurse and says she didn't bring the child to the hospital because she thought she could take care of him by putting medicine on the injuries and wrapping them.
The boy's father, Christoper Funderburg, 29, is accused of injury to child by omission. He was at work when this happened. He says he didn't see his son's injuries until the next morning and told deputies he didn't think a trip to the ER was necessary because his wife, the nurse, was caring for his son. The boy though told detectives they didn't "know what to say to the doctors."
Horton admitted turning down the temperature on the hot water heater after the incident.
The boy told investigators it was not the first time he and his two siblings had been given what they call the "hot water punishment." The seven-year-old said Horton did this to him at least four times.
The attorney for Horton and Funderburg declined comment. Child Protective Services temporarily placed the boy and his two younger sisters with relatives. A CPS spokesperson says the boy is still recovering.