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Mom Seeks to Withdraw Guilty Plea in Son's Starvation

Posted December 5, 2007

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— Sentencing for a woman who starved her son to death has been postponed until January.

Amber Dowen, 22, pleaded guilty on Sept. 17 to second-degree murder and felony child abuse. Dowen and her husband, Richard, were making a freight delivery in Durham in August 2005 when they asked a deputy for help in getting their 4-year-old child, Randy, to the hospital.

Randy Dowen later died at Duke University Hospital.

An autopsy showed he died of malnutrition, dehydration and complications from pneumonia. The autopsy also said the boy weighed nearly 19 pounds at the time of his death, which is half of what a boy should weigh at that age.

Amber Dowen told Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens Wednesday that she wanted to withdraw her plea. She said she had inadequate legal representation and felt she had no choice but to plead guilty.

Stephens said he would review the transcript of the plea hearing before ruling on her request. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Jan. 7.

Amber Dowen faces 24 years in prison. Richard Dowen is already serving a 26-year prison sentence.