Grandmother who let teenager starve to death sentenced to 20 years in prison

The adoptive grandmother of a teenager who starved to death in her family home has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for neglect, false imprisonment, and multiple other crimes.

A district court judge sentenced Carla Bousman to the maximum prison time possible after the 63-year-old confessed to not seeking medical help when she found her 16-year-old granddaughter in distress.

"She had woke up vomiting and had soiled herself and her clothes and I just thought that she wasn’t feeling well and I gave her a shower and cleaned her all up," Ms Bousman told the courtroom of the day her granddaughter died, according to the Des Moines Register.

The Perry, Iowa native was tasked with carrying for her granddaughter, Sabrina Ray, on the day she died. Ms Bousman told the courtroom she not only failed to call for help, but also locked Sabrina’s two adoptive sisters in the room with her as she died.

ABC13 News
ABC13 News

By the time police found Sabrina, she was dead. She weighed just 56 pounds at the time, according to an autopsy report.

"I wish I could go back to that day and change everything and do what I know was the proper thing to do," Ms Bousman said, according to the Register. "I can’t change what was done now, but I’m very sorry and miss all my grandchildren very much."

In a plea deal that spared her the possibility of multiple life sentences, Ms Bousman pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent person, accessory after the fact, obstruction of prosecution, two counts of false imprisonment, and two counts of child endangerment.

Dallas County District Court Judge Terry Rickers accepted the plea, but sentenced Ms Bousman to the maximum jail time possible under the deal: Seven consecutive sentences, totalling 20 years in prison.

“After hearing what you had to tell the court today, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the maximum sentence in this case is the only appropriate sentence,” Mr Rickers said, according to the Dallas County News.

He added: “Grandmothers are supposed to be special. Grandmas are supposed to spoil their grandkids … Grandmas aren’t supposed to contribute to the confinement and degradation of their grandchildren.”

Sabrina’s adoptive parents, Marc Alan Ray and Misty Jo Bousman-Ray, also face charges in the case. The couple, who authorities said they were on vacation at Disney World at the time of their daughter's death, have been charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and child endangerment. They have pleaded not guilty.

Sabrina’s older brother, Justin Ray, pleaded guilty to two counts of willful injury in February, after prosecutors said he drop-kicked his sister down a staircase, according to the Register. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.