By MATTHEW UMSTEAD
8:54 PM EDT, July 16, 2012
A Martinsburg man was sentenced Monday to four to 20 years in prison for starving his young children in 2010 and forcing them to live in the unfinished basement of their home.
Jesse Arlo Lafferty, 34, who pleaded guilty in April to two counts of child abuse causing serious bodily injury, also was fined $2,000 by 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.
Wilkes ordered Lafferty to register with the child-abuse registry for 10 years and instructed him not to have any direct or indirect contact with his children.
Lafferty’s rights to his children were terminated previously and Wilkes concluded that anything less than the sentence he imposed Monday would be inappropriate, given the “pretty horrendous” nature of the case.
Lafferty’s daughter, then 3 years old, and son, then 5 years old, were found at their home at 292 Labonte Drive in a starved condition that resembled “what you would find in Third World countries,” Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely has said.
Authorities found little more than a small piece of carpet, a baby monitor, a couple of blankets and a portable toilet for the children in the locked basement, according to court documents.
Co-defendant Karen Sue Boback’s two children, who also stayed at the residence, were found unharmed, officials said.
Boback, who was sentenced in May, was placed on probation for five years in lieu of a two- to 10-year prison sentence for her role in the children’s mistreatment.
Lafferty, who told the court he was sorry for what he did, said his apology doesn’t make up for his actions.
“I know I’ll never get in trouble again. I guarantee you that,” Lafferty said.
Wilkes acknowledged Lafferty’s apparent remorse, but found the starvation case “extremely troubling” and concluded that two prison sentences of two- to 10-years be served consecutively, and no mercy be granted.
Lafferty and Boback also were indicted in February 2011 on felony charges of gross child neglect creating substantial risk of bodily injury or death, and conspiracy.
Those charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.
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