MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin woman accused of torturing and starving her teenage stepdaughter down to 68 pounds agreed to a plea deal Monday just hours before her trial was set to begin.
The 43-year-old Madison woman agreed to plead guilty to first-degree reckless endangering safety and causing mental harm to a child. Both charges are felonies that carry a combined maximum penalty of 25 years in prison and $50,000 in fines.
Prosecutors agreed to drop four other felony counts. The woman would have faced up to 55½ years in prison and $105,000 in fines if she had been convicted on all six counts. The deal allows Dane County Circuit Judge Julie Genovese to consider the allegations in the dismissed counts during the woman's sentencing, though.
Jury selection was set to begin in the woman's trial early Monday morning. She broke down in tears as her attorney, Thomas McClure, told Genovese she had decided to take the deal. She could barely choke out "yes" when the judge asked her if she understood what the deal would mean.
Investigators say the woman and her husband, who is the girl's father, kept the girl locked in their basement, tortured her and starved her down to 68 pounds. The girl ran away from the house in February 2012. A passing motorist found her wandering the streets and called police.
A jury last month found the girl's father guilty of child neglect after a three-week trial. The Associated Press isn't naming the father or the stepmother to avoid identifying the girl, who has accused her stepbrother of sexually assaulting her.
The stepbrother is set to stand trial in June on two felony sexual assault counts and one child abuse count.