by Randy Pellis
PULASKI_The woman accused along with her boyfriend of intentionally starving a four-year-old child made her first appearance in court Wednesday evening since her March 6 arrest.
Sarah Diamond, 28, of 27 Marsden Drive, Mexico, appeared with her attorney, Anastasia Gagas, before Judge James Ridgeway in the Town of Richland court in what was more a procedural requirement than a matter of substance and resulted primarily in scheduling her next court date.
Diamond was arrested by state police after a three to four-month-long investigation in coordination with Child Protective Services and the Oswego County district attorney’s office. Diamond and her 23-year-old boyfriend, Devon Buckner, also of 27 Marsden Drive, Mexico, were charged with second-degree assault, a class D felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a class A misdemeanor.
Diamond and Buckner were originally remanded on March 6 to the Oswego County Correctional Facility in lieu of $2,500 bail or $5,000 bond. By the next day, they had both posted bond. Typically, bond is posted by a licensed bondsman who requires only a 10 percent non-refundable fee of the accused. Bail, on the other hand, is completely refundable but requires the accused to come up with more immediate cash. Both houses of the New York State Legislature are very close to making major changes in bail requirements, possibly eliminating cash bail for many charges.
According to New York State Police spokesman, Trooper Jack Keller, the assault charge in this case does not imply the couple beat the child. Instead, it refers to the alleged intentional starvation of the four-year-old which, under subdivision nine of the state penal law is defined as the intentional physical injury of a person under seven by a person over 18.
The investigation stemmed from a report to state police by a staff member at an Oswego County school where the child was enrolled in a pre-kindergarten program. According to police, the child was not dressed appropriately for the weather conditions and was “extremely thin” weighing 22 pounds.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the average (50th percentile) weight of a four-year-old is 35 pounds. At 28 pounds, a four-year-old would be in the third percentile of all four-year-olds, and at 22 pounds, a four-year-old child is listed as in the one-tenth of one percent percentile.
It was recommended that the child be seen by a doctor, but Diamond and Buckner refused to do so, according to police. At that point, police considered the child’s health to be in danger and obtained a court order demanding the child be seen by a doctor.
The doctor, or doctors, reported the child was “way under nourished,” said Keller. “They called it maltreatment and discuss it as chronic starvation.”
It was also determined the child had no prior existing health conditions.
The child was then removed by court order to foster care where she remains. Her future will be determined by Oswego County Family Court.
Buckner is the child’s biological father, but Diamond is not the child’s biological mother. The biological mother lives out of state, according to police.
The charge of second-degree assault can result in a minimum of two up to a maximum of seven years in state prison, but according to Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes, “a state prison sentence isn’t mandatory. The court potentially could give them local jail time up to a year, or the court could potentially place them on probation. All those are options for the court.”
On the endangering the welfare of a child charge, Oakes said the maximum potential penalty is one year in jail.
Buckner was also scheduled to appear before Judge Ridgeway Wednesday evening, but his attorney, Anthony DiMartino, was not available at that time.
Following Diamond’s appearance, her attorney, Anastasia Gagas, refused to comment whatsoever, and Diamond was hustled off to a waiting car.
Both Diamond and Buckner are scheduled to next appear in the Town of Richland Court Wednesday evening, April 24.