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Case of two boys' alleged starvation goes to grand jury

DANVILLE — The case of a couple accused of deliberately starving two of their three sons will go to a Boyle County grand jury for possible indictment, a judge ruled Wednesday.

However, District Court Judge Michael Harrod reduced the charges against Virginia and Charles Holsinger from first-degree criminal abuse to second-degree criminal abuse.

A person is guilty of first-degree criminal abuse, a class C felony punishable by five to 10 years in prison, when he intentionally abuses another person. Second-degree criminal abuse, a class D felony punishable by one to five years in prison, is when a person “wantonly” abuses another person.

The boys, ages 9 and 12, are Charles Holsinger's sons. Virginia Holsinger is their stepmother, Danville Police Detective Sgt. Patrick McQueen testified during a preliminary hearing.

No criminal charges were brought in relation to the couple's 13-year-old son because his weight loss was less severe, McQueen said.

A doctor who examined the two younger boys at the Danville hospital said they were malnourished according to their weight-to-age ratios, McQueen testified. A blood test indicated that the 12-year-old had not eaten in several days, McQueen said.

The 12-year-old also told police that when he was hungry he was told “that he was not going to get any more food,” McQueen said.

The 13-year-old would often make breakfast for his younger brothers, which was typically microwaved oatmeal.

“Their feeding, at best, could be described as irregular,” McQueen said.

As a form of punishment, the Holsingers told the boys to stand in a spot of the house that smelled of urine, McQueen said. The Holsingers kept three dogs and three chickens in the house, and the animals had “messed” throughout the house, McQueen said.

Under cross-examination, public advocate Susanne McCollough noted that all three boys had suffered brain injuries from a car accident. One boy also has an “overactive thyroid” and mild cerebral palsy, she said.

She noted that the Holsingers had filled drug prescriptions for the boys, indicating that some level of care-giving was present.

Harrod also reduced the bond on each Holsinger from $100,000 cash to $10,000 cash. If released, they are not to have contact with the boys without state supervision.