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Guilty Verdict in Teen’s Death

June 7, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A couple whose 15-year-old disabled daughter starved to death was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Michael and Katrina Gentry face up to 10 years in prison when they are sentenced July 6.

The couple’s daughter, Lindsay, weighed 44 pounds when she died in 1996. An autopsy found the girl died of pneumonia and progressive emaciation caused by a lack of food.

Fifteen abuse complaints had been filed, mostly by the girl’s teachers, from 1987 until her death.

The girl suffered from myotonic dystrophy, a congenital muscle deterioration disease. Defense lawyers contended the disease caused her death.

Ms. Gentry, 46, who suffers from a milder form of the disease, cried quietly in a wheelchair when the jury’s verdict was announced Tuesday. She was hospitalized after complaining of chest pains.

Gentry, 56, looked ashen when he was led out in handcuffs.

``They just convicted two people who are innocent,″ said Jack Nicolai, Gentry’s cousin. ``The jury does not know them. They could only act on what evidence they were given.″

Prosecutors last year filed second-degree murder charges against the couple, but a trial ended with a hung jury. In the retrial, prosecutors sought the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter and did not have to prove intent.

The jury, which deliberated for 13 days, also found the couple guilty of child abuse and conspiracy to commit child abuse.

Teachers told authorities that Lindsay’s lunches from home were ``minuscule,″ that her lunch box was dirty and the food sometimes had ants on it. Teachers often gave the girl food, but the parents ordered them to feed Lindsay only what they sent or approved. They eventually pulled her out of school to educate her at home.

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