By Colleen Jenkins
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Reuters) - A North Carolina man accused of chaining an 11-year-old boy to a porch with a dead chicken hanging around his neck pleaded guilty on Wednesday to child abuse charges and was sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, his attorney said.
Dorian Harper, 58, was arrested in November 2013 after authorities in Union County, near Charlotte, found the foster child shivering and shackled by his ankle to the front porch of the home where he was living.
Detectives said Harper, a former emergency room nurse, put the dead chicken around the boy's neck to punish him for killing a chicken on the farm where Harper lived with his longtime girlfriend, Wanda Sue Larson.
Harper also was accused of shocking the child in the face with an electrical cord, twisting his fingers with pliers and cutting him with a knife.
His trial was set to begin on Wednesday when he pleaded guilty to charges including inflicting intentional child abuse causing serious injury and assault with a deadly weapon, his attorney, Randolph Lee, told Reuters.
"His primary motive in pleading guilty today was to spare the children who would testify the trauma (and) the embarrassment," Lee said.
Harper was sentenced to serve about six to 10 years in prison, Lee said.
Larson was arrested on similar charges in the case, prompting her firing from her job as a child protective services supervisor at the county's social services department. She has pleaded not guilty and is due to stand trial in April, according to reports.
A representative for the district attorney said he had no comment on Harper's case because Larson's charges were pending.
(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Peter Cooney)