Michigan Man Gets Minimum 30 Years in Prison in Starvation Death of His Disabled Brother

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
February 26, 2024US News
Michigan Man Gets Minimum 30 Years in Prison in Starvation Death of His Disabled Brother
File photo of a judge's gavel. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MUSKEGON, Mich.—A Michigan man who pleaded guilty in his disabled brother’s starvation death was sentenced Monday to a minimum of 30 years in prison by a judge who said the defendant is “one step away from becoming a psychopath.”

Paul Ferguson, 21, pleaded guilty in December to first-degree child abuse in the death of 15-year-old Timothy Ferguson. He was sentenced Monday to a minimum 30 years and maximum 100 years in prison.

Timothy, who had autism and was speech- and motor-impaired, weighed only 69 pounds when he died in July 2022 at the family’s western Michigan home in Norton Shores, authorities said.

The brothers’ mother, Shanda Vander Ark, 44, of Norton Shores, was sentenced in January to life in prison without a chance of parole after a jury convicted her of murder and child abuse in the teen’s death.

Muskegon County Circuit Judge Matthew Kacel said he didn’t believe Mr. Paul Ferguson was sorry for the abusive punishments, including ice baths, he and his mother carried out that led to Timothy Ferguson’s death.

“The court believes Mr. Ferguson is one step away from becoming a psychopath like his mother,” Judge Kacel said during Monday’s hearing, the Grand Rapids Press reported.

Mr. Ferguson and Ms. Vander Ark punished Timothy by feeding him hot sauce, subjecting him to ice baths, depriving him of sleep and locking the refrigerator and food cabinets, prosecutors said. He died from malnourishment and hypothermia.

Muskegon County Chief Trial Prosecutor Matt Roberts said Mr. Ferguson represents a threat to the public if he doesn’t get mental health treatment while incarcerated.

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