1 Nov 2008

Dad in maluntrition abuse case gets 15 years

The Arizona Republic - November 1, 2008

Dad in 'vegan' abuse case gets 15 years

by Michael Kiefer

A father convicted of three counts of child abuse for nearly starving his children to death while following a bizarre diet he mistakenly called "vegan" begged for probation Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court so that he could care for the child still in his custody.
Instead, the judge sentenced Blair Parker to nearly 15 years in prison.
"There are certain cases that haunt you," said Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Frankie Grimsman, who prosecuted the case. "There are certain cases you never forget. This is one of them."

In April 2003, Parker's 3-year-old daughter was rushed to the hospital because she was having a seizure. The girl weighed 13 pounds and looked like a concentration-camp casualty. Her 11-year-old sister was the size of a 5-year-old; her 9-year-old brother was no bigger than a 3-year-old.
Parker and his wife, Kimu, both 38, kept the children on a strict daily regimen of prayer, study, chores, exercise and rigid adherence to diet, right down to what liquids they could drink and when.
Then they failed to seek medical help when the children wasted away.
Both were charged with multiple counts of child abuse, and the children were placed in a foster home, where they have thrived. The Parkers later had another child; authorities never charged them in the death of a fifth child, who succumbed to meningitis, allegedly because they did not seek medical care in time.
Kimu Parker went to trial in 2007, was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Blair Parker's trial last summer was before a different judge and jury, and even though he was the parent who planned and executed the near-deadly diet, he was found guilty of lesser child-abuse crimes. Technically, he was eligible for probation.
But at Friday's hearing, Grimsman asked for the maximum punishment, saying that the Parkers put "their religious beliefs over the welfare of their children."
"These children deserve justice," she said.
Parker wept when it was his turn to address Judge Roland Steinle.
"In the last three years of dealing with this situation, I have been humiliated, I have been embarrassed," Parker said.
He appealed to Steinle for the sake of the child who remained in his custody and asked that he be sentenced to probation.
Steinle was unmoved and remarked that Parker was more embarrassed than remorseful. He sentenced Parker to two three-year and one 8 3/4-year prison sentences to be served consecutively.
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