Starved child’s parents sent to prison

The parents of an 18-month-old Vermilion Township boy who starved to death last November are headed to prison.
Courtney Astolfi
Nov 5, 2013


James Brothers, 34, and Adrienne Bartholomew, 35, pleaded guilty in August to two counts of felonious child endangering and three counts of misdemeanor child endangering, in connection with the Nov. 6, 2012, death of their son, Isaac Brothers-Bartholomew.    

On Monday, Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Binette sentenced each of them to five years in prison and one year in the county jail.

Brothers will serve a consecutive sentence, while Bartholomew will serve a concurrent one. This means Brothers will serve a full six years, while his wife will be released after three years.

The sentencing comes almost a year to the day after their son died of starvation in the family’s Risden Road home.

One of the Brothers-Bartholomew children — they had seven, including Isaac — found Isaac unresponsive, prompting Brothers to call police. When Erie County deputies arrived at the home they found the six surviving siblings in various stages of neglect: vomit in their hair, urine on their clothes, and a house filled by the stench of waste.

The children suffer from a rare genetic disorder that affects their ability to retain healthy fat deposits, which was a key component in the pair’s defense, according to court testimony.

At Monday’s hearing, defense attorney Denise Demmitt said the children’s medical conditions should be taken into account when determining the parents’ sentences. Demmitt faulted her clients for missing scheduled appointments with doctors and social workers, but maintained the pair had their children’s best interest in mind.

Demmitt also said the neglect that led to Isaac’s death was the result of the sheer number of children in the home and the care each of them required.

Amanda Siesel, a social worker at Erie County Job and Family Services, described how the Brothers-Bartholomew children have improved in both health and mindset since they were taken from their biological parents and placed into foster homes.

“The most severe case of neglect Erie County Children’s Services had ever seen,” Siesel said of the case involving the Brothers-Bartholomew children.

Brothers and Bartholomew also made statements to the court, in hopes of garnering leniency from Binette.

“I miss them all just crazy, all I think about is them, they were my whole life,” Brothers said of his children.

Said Bartholomew: “Everything our life was about, was about those children. I was tired a lot, we just kept getting bombarded right and left.”

Binette was far from sympathetic.

“The truth is a real issue for you,” Binette said to Brothers, calling his statements a “charade.”

“Your attorney plays you off as a hero,” Binette said. “I see a villain. I think the only remorse you have is that you got caught.”

Binette also brought up testimony from the couple’s 11-year-old child. During the course of the investigation, the child told authorities his father played video games on the couch, and his mother was on the computer all day. The child also mentioned he was responsible for feeding his siblings, and the children were only bathed once a week. The boy also described “therapy cleaning”— how the family would clean the house in preparation for social worker visits.

Ultimately, Binette gave Brothers a longer sentence than his wife.

“The court finds the husband more culpable,” Binette said, adding that he took into account Brothers’ responsibility to take the children to appointments, as well as his “controlling” nature and criminal history.

Both defendants received 222 days credit for time already served in jail.

The couple’s co-defendant, Deborah Nelson — the children’s grandmother and home healthcare nurse — previously pleaded guilty to similar charges in the case. She has yet to be sentenced.



Five years for starving a child to death!!! I couldn't believe what I was reading. I'm not only shocked, I'm outraged.


Chris Farley must be one heck of an attorney !


Why is this not murder? Or torture? All I see is child endangering charges, the kid was murdered.

The only difference between these parents and Clinton, is Clinton murdered his victims quickly. These parents tortured their kid and made him suffer longer before dying.



Stop It

Meh...hope those kids never get back with their parents.


I agree with Dick Tracy - why were they only charged with child endangering? At the very least voluntary manslaughter if they couldn't find a reason to pull off the murder charge. The child endangering charges should have been for the other 5 children that they had that survived living in that wreck of a home but they obviously let them off the hook for killing that precious little boy!!


Not to mention, the neglect was in part due to the number of kids in the household.... STERILIZE these 2! Should have been part of the sentencing. Heaven forbid they get out of jail and make more children. Seriously don't understand why murder charges weren't pursued.


Good Night, the attorney needs some help! Looks just like Chris Farley too!!! Well on the bright side she will be popping out kids in a few more years for the rest of us to support, after all it takes a village....

Rusty of Sandusky

FYI regarding their attorney, she also is/was an aspiring gourmet chef roughly three years ago:



Ok well they shouyld get something out of this , but one question remains , What are the Children Service workers getting besides changes in the law ? .
I agree the parents should get time , but I think the workers should be held responsable as well , The Protection of children is suppose to be their job and if anyone here remembers , The child workers went to the home and was not able to see and talk to the chilren in the home . So they should have went to a judge and got a court order for them to let them see the children and make sure they are ok
Children Services get away with everything and place the blame on the Parents . I am not saying the Parents should not be held responable , But I am saying that children servies fail to preform the duties that they are hired and responsable for .And should have been charged as well

Stop It

Which high school did you graduate from in the Sandusky area code, Gene? Alabama is really a far ways away, so why do you care what happens around here?

How's the yard work coming along? Will the wife have it done before thanksgiving?


I know that an eyebrow piercing is certainly a quality that I look for in a good attorney.


Their lawyer is Meat Loaf?


the lawyer sure ain't starvin' eyebrow ring? not too professional.


I don't CARE what the child's medical issues may have been. It takes a good deal of time — most of which is torturous — to starve somebody to death. There's NO WAY there weren't plenty of signs that the child was in deep, deep trouble. That the parents didn't care, and apparently nobody else noticed, is reprehensible. As far as I'm concerned, Dick Tracey is right: This was MURDER. To serve a sentence of a few years for child endangering is like suggesting failing to put a baby in a car seat is no different than laying the baby in the driveway and running over it.

Sal Dali

Being starved to death is to die a slow and agonizing death. These sentences are a joke for this crime unless their food is going to be withheld. If we are ever going to end the abuse of children the fate of their abusers is going to have to be more than a slap on the wrist. How many children have met an untimely death caused by an adult in this county over the last ten years? Does anyone have actual numbers a little more realistic than NIBRS or UCR? This boy died because he was starved but his caretakers did not get charged with homicide and would not be counted as such in incident reporting. When a child dies as the result of abuse, what the abuser actually gets charged with seems to be a toss-up depending upon the depravity, not the fact a child's life has needlessly been taken. There are crimes that do not involve the taking of a life that will land a person more time in jail than these two received. The lives of our children are worth so much more than the pathetic sentences given to these types of parasites. The price of justice is more than dollars and cents; our children's lives are priceless. We all need to be more proactive in fighting this injustice for all children.


These two agreed to a plea deal offered by Erie County prosecutor Kevin Baxter, who apparently didn't think the life of the child to be worthy of trying a case of manslaughter. Anybody with a complaint about the sentence/crime should complain to his office.

My thoughts are that Baxter could not risk taking the case to trial because the defense would raise the fact that Erie County Children's services knew about the conditions and did nothing. Also, the grandmother was receiving payments to provide nursing care to the children. So there is likely a case of fraud there and Baxter doesn't want that issued reviewed as well.

Face the facts of this case and many others: Erie county government officials such as Baxter, JFS and the citizens who empower them really don't care about the least of us.