Kansas Woman Accused Of Starving Stepdaughters Pleads Guilty To Abuse, Aggravated Battery

Friday, May 4th 2007, 2:50 pm
By: News On 6

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A woman accused of starving her stepdaughters while keeping her biological children well-fed has pleaded guilty to abuse charges.

The trial for Jennifer L. Wood had been scheduled to start next week, but she pleaded guilty Wednesday. In addition to abuse charges, she admitted to one count of aggravated battery stemming from allegations that she choked one of the girls.

Trial for Alex Wood, the girls' father, is scheduled for May 14.

Jennifer Wood is to be sentenced next month; calls to her attorney, Roger Falk, were not immediately returned. The Sedgwick County District Attorney's Office said the guilty plea was not part of a plea agreement.

The girls, ages 6 and 7 at the time, were removed from their home and the parents arrested last July after a social worker discovered them starving and dehydrated in the basement of the family home.

The home was well-stocked with food and Jennifer Wood's children, a 4-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy, were found to be healthy and well-fed, authorities said.

The case led to a state investigation because school officials said they had reported concerns about the girls starting 10 months earlier. Several people in the local office of the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services were disciplined, and a judge said in October that state child-protection officials ``failed these two girls miserably.''