October 16, 2012 2:02 pm • Kim Smith, Arizona Daily Star
A single mother of four who was accused of starving one of her pre-schoolers could be placed on probation or receive between five and 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of child abuse Tuesday morning.
Ashley Kammerer, 23, acknowledged she failed to provide necessary nutrition to her 23-month-old son during a two-month period last summer. She will be sentenced on one count of child abuse under circumstances likely to cause death or serious physical injury on Jan. 3.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Fields agreed to delay Kammerer’s sentence so she could celebrate Christmas with all of her children and the birthdays of the victim and one of his brothers.
Kammerer found out when she was five months along that her third child would be born with a congenital defect called "diaphragmatic hernia," which requires patients to be fed through a tube that goes into the intestines.
The baby was born three weeks early and spent the next eight months in the hospital. He left the hospital at 14.1 pounds on June 21, 2010.
In Sept. 23, 2011, the boy’s doctor told Kammerer to bring the boy in when she called to report he had lost a lot of weight and was vomiting a great deal.
The boy weighed 14.5 pounds and was immediately hospitalized.
The boy had weighed 21 pounds at a doctor’s appointment two months earlier, court records indicate. In addition, Tucson police said the child nearly doubled his weight after being removed from his mother’s home.
A grand jury indicted Kammerer in January on the child abuse charge.
In the hopes of getting the case resolved prior to trial, Assistant Pima County Public Defender Dawn Priestman wrote several court pleadings.
Kammerer did what she could to address the boy’s constant weight fluctuations and bouts with vomiting, Priestman said in the filings.
She took the boy to the doctor’s office or hospital 24 times in the 15 months between his release from the hospital and his hospitalization in September 2011, Priestman said. He was admitted to the hospital every time he was taken, once staying five months.
Had Kammerer gone to trial and been convicted, she was facing between 10 and 24 years in prison.
The boy, who turns 3 next month, is now living with his paternal grandfather. Two of Kammerer’s other children are with their dads and her eldest child, a 5-year-old boy, is in foster care.
Since Kammerer's arrest she’s been involved in parenting classes and earned a general equivalency diploma, court documents indicate. She also attends all of the boy’s physical and speech therapy sessions and all of his medical appointments.
If placed on probation, Kammerer will have to continue working with sate Child Protective Services and take the boy to the doctor on a monthly basis.
Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org