Dallas mother gets life for starving baby who was too weak to cry when he died
Dallas, TX – A 22-year-old mother was sentenced to life in prison for starving her 7 1/2-month-old baby to death.
When Kary Sharpe died, he weighed ounces more than he did when he was born.
Too emaciated to lift his head or roll over, he likely didn’t even cry in the hours and days before he died of starvation Dec. 2, 2014.
Kary’s mother, Princess White, pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony injury to a child charge.
State District Judge Teresa Hawthorne — known for giving second chances — sentenced the woman to life in prison Friday.
Hawthorne frequently interjected during testimony to ask questions, often wondering what might have led White to neglect her baby.
The judge said she will never be able to get the image of baby Kary out of her mind — so thin that every rib in his body could be seen in his autopsy photos.
The skin around his belly and backside sagged where muscle and fat had once been.
Hawthorne said she often gives people second chances so they can get help to amend for their mistakes but couldn’t ignore “what you did by letting that baby die.”
“That poor child longed for nurture and food,” Hawthorne said.
White shouted “no!” after she was sentenced and was led back to a holding cell. She could be heard wailing from inside the courtroom.
Her family threw themselves on the floor weeping outside the courtroom, and her mother said, “How could they give my baby life?”
White’s aunt, 24-year-old Kiara Hamlett, testified that she could tell Kary was small for his age but didn’t realize how emaciated he was until the day he died.
Hamlett and White’s sister lived with White and her three children.
“What the hell were you grown-ups doing in there?” Hawthorne asked Hamlett. “Is there anything you can say to me to help me understand why for two months nobody took care of this baby?”
Hamlett sniffed and hung her head.
“Do you not have an answer for me, ma’am?” Hawthorne asked.
“No ma’am,” Hamlett responded.
Defense attorney Sindhu Alexander said White couldn’t understand that her baby could die. Alexander asked the court for leniency.
“She was ill-equipped to deal with the exact situation she had,” Alexander said.
She said that White’s parenting skills worsened after the father of her three children went to prison, leaving her to work and care for the kids by herself.
“I don’t think Princess White realized if she didn’t take him to the doctor he could die,” Alexander said.
But prosecutor Eren Price said it’s pointless to waste time trying to figure out why a mother would let her baby starve to death.
She called White a liar and a manipulator. White claimed that she had fed Kary and changed his diaper the day he died. Medical records showed the child was wearing an “old, heavily saturated, foul-smelling diaper.”
And the autopsy report showed that Kary’s stomach was empty. All that remained in his body was feces he was likely too weak to pass.
Price said as awful as it may sound, “it would have been more humane for her to put a bullet in his head.”
White was indicted in January 2015 on the injury to a child charge for “failing to provide adequate nutrition” and “failing to seek adequate medical care” for Kary.
Child Protective Services took custody of White’s two other children. They are now in foster care.
After months in jail, White wrote Hawthorne, asking the judge to lower her bail.
“What they accusing me of I didn’t do it I love my kids,” White wrote. “I was a single mother struggle tryna make sure we had a place to stay and food to eat.”
She said that she had never been in trouble before, except for a time she was accused of stealing “pampers for my baby!!”
White signed the letter, “love Princess.”
On Thursday, prosecutor Eren Price showed the judge photos of Kary’s body. His bones were protruding and his body was shrunken in comparison to his head.
Price compared those photos to undated pictures on White’s phone showing that Kary had once been healthy and well-fed, with rolls on his arms and legs, a round face and big brown eyes.
In some pictures he was grinning, wide-mouthed and toothless.
“If I didn’t know it was the same child, you couldn’t convince me,” said Dallas police Detective Chris Adams, a child-abuse detective who went to the hospital after Kary died.
He described the baby as “skin and bones.” Kary was emaciated, with no muscle or fat on his tiny body.
White told police that Kary had trouble keeping down his bottles because he was lactose-intolerant. She said she had fed him 8 ounces of soy milk the morning of his death, but police didn’t find any soy milk in the home, Adams said.
Dr. Suzanne Dakil, a pediatrician who specializes in child-abuse cases, said even babies who have trouble eating or keeping down their food wouldn’t be as emaciated as Kary was when he died.
When Price showed a photo of the baby when he was alive to Dakil, the pediatrician raised her eyebrows and asked, “That’s the same child?”
Dakil looked back at a photo of Kary’s emaciated body and said, “That would’ve been slow suffering.”
Kary weighed about 6 pounds 9 ounces when he was born. At a checkup when he was 3 months old, he was slightly underweight at 9 pounds. At 7-1/2 months, when he died, he weighed 7 pounds.
Dakil described such starvation deaths of babies as rare.
“This is actively, passively letting a kid die right in front of you,” Dakil said. “It’s not an act of minutes. It’s weeks, months.”
If Kary had been taken to a hospital, she said, he could’ve been saved. He would have gained weight, and his growth would have been that of a normal, healthy child.
And he would have turned 3 later this month.