By Keith Coffman
DENVER (Reuters) - A woman who admitted locking up her 14-year-old son in a squalid trailer and feeding him just a few times a week before abandoning him was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in prison.
Amanda Jolliff, 37, pleaded guilty to false imprisonment and child abuse after police found the boy living in a rodent-infested mobile home in Erie, Colorado, northwest of Denver, said Meghan Swella, spokeswoman for the Weld County District Attorney's Office.
Judge Thomas Quammen rejected a defense request for a non-prison sentence.
"Both the judge and the prosecutor said at the hearing that Jolliff will be treated more humanely in prison than her son was by her, with three square meals a day and a clean environment," Swella said.
According to arrest warrant affidavits, the boy was discovered cowering under a neighbor's front porch last September.
The neighbor called police, who discovered that Jolliff went to New York two weeks earlier with her live-in boyfriend, leaving the boy on his own.
The boyfriend, Richard Smith, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child abuse and was sentenced earlier to 60 days in jail, in addition to the 167 days he served after his arrest.
When police searched the home, they found mice scampering throughout the trailer and "detected an overpowering odor of animal urine and feces," the affidavit said.
In and around the residence were two dogs, four toads, a macaw, two cockatiels, a cockatoo and two ducks, police said.
The boy told police his mother would lock him inside his bedroom, letting him out just to clean up after the ducks, and that he had not attended school for three years.
He said his mother fed him spaghetti or macaroni four times a week, and police said they found bags of noodles in the pantry that had been chewed open by mice and contaminated with droppings.
Police said the boy's bedroom window was boarded up, the bedroom door had an outside lock, and he slept on a urine-soaked mattress.
After her arrest, Jolliff admitted that she locked up the boy because he was a runaway and "used to irritate me real bad," the arrest affidavit said.
Swella said the boy is doing well in a foster home. "His foster parents reported that he has thanked them for not locking him up," she said.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Greg McCune)