Judge jails woman convicted of starving boy to maximum of 10 to 30 years
Christina Thomas, who remained silent, hoped for leniency during her sentencing hearing in Strafford County Superior Court in Dover Monday. She will serve 10-30 years in prison for withholding food from a boy for several years. John Quinn/Union Leader
Strafford County Superior Court Judge John Lewis imposed the maximum sentence — 10 to 30 years — on Christina Thomas for starving a boy between 2006 and 2010.
"This is starving a child over a series of years," Assistant County Attorney Alysia Cassotis said Monday, adding when the boy was 6 1/2, he weighed as much as a 10-month-old.
Thomas, 34, of 214 Birch Hill Road, New Durham, has been in jail since a jury found her guilty in February of "deliberate" first-degree assault for withholding food from the developmentally delayed boy. Thomas was friends with the boy's mother.
Now 9, the boy is being cared for by foster parents who said he has shown dramatic improvement, but will always be affected by the experience.
Bail conditions require that Thomas have no contact with the boy or his family, as she deliberately targeted the boy, Cassotis said.
"It is time she's held responsible for what she's done with this child," Cassotis said.
The judge asked if Thomas could offer any mitigating factors in the case.
"I'm asking hard questions, but this is the time to have a discussion with me," Lewis said.
Attorney Steven Keable, who represented Thomas, told the judge Thomas was subjected to physical and emotional abuse as a child, institutionalized as a teen, became a mother at 15 and used drugs and alcohol. He said she suffers from a personality disorder.
Keable read a letter Thomas wrote for the hearing, which asked the court to be lenient.
"I have remorse for some things I have done," Keable read. Thomas maintains her innocence.
Keable argued a sentence of 2 1/2 to 10 years would be sufficiently stringent, but give her an opportunity to stay connected to her six biological children.
"My children are my life," Thomas said in the letter read by her lawyer.
Lewis said he felt serving at least 10 years behind bars would give Thomas a controlled environment in which to seek rehabilitation.
"You need structure," Lewis said, citing her history of resisting authority and manipulating others.
Lewis encouraged Thomas to take responsibility and stay in touch with her children.
"It's not the end of the world if you're 44 when you get out," Lewis said, adding she can still have a relationship with her children while in prison.
After the sentencing, Thomas entered a not-guilty plea to two new charges — falsifying physical evidence and perjury — in connection with her three-week trial in February.
Falsifying physical evidence and perjury are Class B Felonies, which could each result in 3 1/2 to seven years in jail and a $2,000 fine.