ANNVILLE, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania woman has been convicted in the death of a 12-year-old boy authorities said was starved and beaten before his death almost two years ago.
Jurors deliberated for less than an hour Tuesday before convicting 37-year-old Kimberly Maurer of homicide, child endangerment, involuntary manslaughter and criminal conspiracy in the May 2020 death of 12-year-old Maxwell Schollenberger, the Lebanon Daily News reported.
Lebanon County authorities said the boy’s naked, feces-covered body was found in a soiled bed in a room that was caked with feces and urine. He had a broken eye socket and multiple signs of blunt force trauma, and the cause of death was attributed to prolonged starvation, malnutrition and blunt force trauma, officials said.
In September 2020, authorities accused Scott Schollenberger Jr., 43, and Maurer, his fiancée, of keeping the boy in a dark room for years, starving him and beating him while treating their other children well. The boy’s room had no lights and duct tape closed the shades while metal hooks kept the room locked from outside, officials said.
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Scott Schollenberger pleaded guilty last month shortly before his scheduled trial date to charges including criminal homicide, child endangerment and conspiracy. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In Maurer’s trial, witnesses testified that she failed to enroll the 12-year-old in school for years, give him proper medical care, or give him proper treatment for possible physical and psychological problems, the newspaper reported.
Maurer’s attorneys argued that the boy’s father orchestrated the abuse and death. Attorney Andrew Race said she could be convicted of endangerment but not more serious charges because the boy’s father wouldn’t allow anyone else to make decisions for his son.
“The only thing Kim is guilty of is letting Scott control her, not doing more and not calling the police,” he said in his closing arguments. Witnesses confirmed that his client was a good caretaker, and “the suggestion she would do this to Maxwell is difficult to understand,” Race said. He told PennLive.com that the verdict was “disappointing.”
Prosecutors, however, said social media posts and text messages showed Maurer describing an inability to control Max’s behavior, along with instances of Max urinating and defecating in the family’s home.
District Attorney Pier Hess Graf said the trial of Maurer, who will be sentenced June 1, showed jurors “what pure evil personified looks like.”
“It shows how a child could be tortured, starved and punished in every way for existing,” she said.