School Delays across the Tennessee Valley

Child abuse charges in 3-year-old’s death carry same penalty as murder

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - It's been one week since Emergency crews responded to a 911 call at 125 Maple Ridge Blvd for a 3-year-old boy described as "unresponsive," and the boy's parents remain in the Madison county jail with a $200,000 bond each.

Huntsville police say paramedics were unable to revive the child and he passed away at Huntsville Hospital.

Now, WHNT News 19 is looking further into the charges that 34-year-old Frederick Antony Frink and 36-year-old Ashley Elizabeth Catron are accused of.

After their 3-year-old son died from being severely malnourished, they're being charged with aggravated child abuse.

Their four-year-old son has been in the hospital recovering, and officers say he's doing better, but it will be a long recovery.

Tim Douthit from the Madison County District Attorney's Office says in Alabama there are three different levels of child abuse.

"There's regular for somebody that just beats or mistreats their children, there's aggravated child abuse for if you do that over a long period of time or if you do that in a way that causes substantial risk of death or permanent kind of injury," explained Douthit.

Frink and Catron have been charged with the most serious level of child abuse because they are accused of abusing a child who was under six-years-old.

"It's a class A felony ten to life. It's the same charge as murder," said Douthit

Douthit says there are multiple crimes that fall under the label of child abuse. They range from cruelly beating or torturing a child, or there are less typical cases.

"There is also a section of child abuse for somebody that willfully maltreats a child. That's going to be some body that doesn't feed their children, or who's kid breaks their leg and has a bone sticking out and they don't take them to the hospital," said Douthit.

He says even though police say neither child had "obvious signs of trauma or visible injuries," since they were severely malnourished the charges will remain as the most severe form of child abuse.

 

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