Jun 8, 2015 4:18 PM
Nottingham's Peggy Starr, charged with starving child, gives emotional testimony
DOVER - Peggy Starr is back on trial, accused of starving a child in her care.
Starr, 57, of Nottingham, took the witness stand Monday morning. She was clearly emotional as she answered questions for Deputy County Attorney Alysia Cassotis.
Through much of Starr's testimony, she was crying, as she described her relationship with the boy's biological mother, who will not be named to protect the identity of the victim.
Starr said the woman lived with Christina Thomas, Starr's daughter, but did not have the capacity to raise the boy on her own.
Thomas was in charge of the woman's finances and controlled all of the food in the house.
There were just two cabinets that were not locked, Starr said, in an effort to keep the woman from eating all of the children's cereal and snacks.
"A lot of times, it was like keeping up with a teenager," Starr said of the woman.
Thomas also took control over what the young boy ate, especially when he started ruminating, or throwing up his food in his mouth to chew it again.
Starr said he threw up everything he ate if he ate too quickly.
Starr said the boy could eat peanut butter sandwiches, but if jelly or fluff were added, he would become violently ill.
She also said he loved carrots, but eventually some were taken away so he would stop ruminating.
Starr believed the boy was behaving this way for attention.
"How often did (the boy) vomit?" Cassotis asked Starr.
"Full vomiting? Never more than three to four, four to five times a day," Starr said. "When he vomited, it was like you wondered where it all came from."
The child, who was "always hungry," was treated like anyone else in the family, Starr said.
"I loved him like I did all my grandkids," Starr said. "I wasn't more loving to him. I wasn't any meaner to him."
Cassotis pushed Starr to admit her role in the boy's abuse. He was just 23 pounds when the state took him away at 6-years-old.
During one exchange between the attorney and criminal defendant, Starr cracked.
"Don't look at me like I'm lying," Starr said emotionally.
Besides being deprived of nutrition, the boy was locked in a dog crate and chained to a bunk bed, according to witnesses who testified for the state.
Thomas is already serving up to 30 years in prison for her involvement in the crimes.
If convicted of first-degree assault, Starr could be sentenced to the same fate and be fined $4,000.
Starr's trial was continued, and has yet to be rescheduled.