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Texas woman pleads guilty to neglecting daughter

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Posted: Mar 27, 2014 11:30 AM

Updated: Mar 27, 2014 11:30 AM

ATHENS, Texas (AP) An East Texas woman who authorities say tried to starve her severely disabled 17-year-old daughter to death in order to get access to the girl's $2.8 million trust fund has pleaded guilty to neglect.

The jury trial for 52-year-old Irma Espinoza of Athens was halted after she pleaded guilty Wednesday to injury to a disabled person by omission, the Tyler Morning Telegraph (http://bit.ly/1jRtW9V ) reported. The plea came after one day of graphic testimony depicting the long-term neglect of the teen. Sentencing is set for May.

The girl, who has cerebral palsy and mental disabilities, weighed only 29 pounds when authorities became aware of her condition in 2012. The girl was covered in bed sores so deep that her bones were infected, and she also was suffering from acute kidney failure.

An audio recording played for the jury contained a statement made by Espinoza in which she said the girl went nearly seven years without any medical treatment.

Henderson County Sheriff's Office Maj. Botie Hillhouse said that during the investigation, authorities learned there was a large trust fund in the daughter's name to take care of her needs for life.

"The mother could not touch it as long as the daughter was alive, so we believe she was starving her so she would die to get the money," he told the newspaper.

Hillhouse described the house near Athens where the girl lived as a "house of horror," saying it was full of cats, urine and fecal matter.

"It was deplorable conditions. It is really hard to describe," he said.

Hillhouse said the girl, who is now in state care, has recovered and gained weight.

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Information from: Tyler Morning Telegraph, http://www.tylerpaper.com

Topics: Mother-Neglect Plea

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