Peggy Starr

Apr 9, 2015 12:00 AM

Witness describes abuse of starved boy in Peggy Starr trial

DOVER - A witness for the state testified during Peggy Starr's trial Thursday that she saw Starr drag her alleged victim to her car by the arm, strike him multiple times, and then force him into the vehicle after a medical appointment at Portsmouth Family Practice.

Jean Petrie of Elliot, Maine, said she was working as a medical assistant in October of 2009 when she witnessed Starr, 57, of Nottingham, mistreat the child, who Starr is accused of helping starve from 2008 to 2010.

When the child was taken from his biological mother in April of 2010, he was six-years-old and weighed just 23 pounds.

The woman, who will not be identified to protect the child, testified earlier this week that she, too, was physically abused by Christina Thomas, who is serving up to 30 years in prison for her involvement in the child's starvation.

The young boy was placed in a dog kennel and chained to a bed while his mother lived with Thomas and Starr in their New Durham home, the woman said on Tuesday.

Petrie said on Thursday that after she witnessed Starr mistreat the boy, she told one of her coworkers. They both witnessed Starr bringing him back into the doctor's office, where they went into the bathroom and Petrie heard Starr slap him multiple times.

When Star left with the child, there was a piece of feces on the bathroom floor.

Petrie and her co-worker called the Division for Children, Youth and Families. The doctor's office where she worked is a mandated reporter.

During his cross-examination, public defender David Betancourt asked Petrie more specifically about the alleged slaps inside the bathroom.

"It was like a quick whack-whack-whack," Petrie said.

Judge Steven Houran listened carefully to Petrie's testimony. Since Starr waived her right to a jury trial, he will be deciding her fate.

If convicted, Starr could be sentenced to 10 to 30 years in prison, and face a $4,000 fine.

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