Local News

Judge Sentences Mom for Son's Starvation Death

Posted January 14, 2008 4:20 p.m. EST

— A judge on Monday refused to strike out the guilty plea of a woman for starving her son to death and instead gave her at least 13 years in prison.

Amber Dowen, 22, pleaded guilty on Sept. 17 to second-degree murder and felony child abuse. She 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.

In December, Amber Dowen asked Superior Court Judge Ronald Stephens to allow her to withdraw her plea. She said she had inadequate legal representation and felt she had no choice but to plead guilty.

Stephens denied that request on Monday after reviewing the court transcript. He sentenced Amber Dowen to between 13 years and 1 month and 16 years and 6 months. She had faced up to 24 years in prison.

Richard Dowen has already begun serving a 26-year prison sentence.

An autopsy showed that their son 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.