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Parents OK deal in starvation case

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota couple accused of starving their adopted son reached a plea agreement with prosecutors Monday on charges of child neglect.

Mona Hauer pleaded to a felony child neglect charge, while Russell Hauer pleaded to a gross misdemeanor. They each entered Alford pleas, in which defendants can maintain their innocence but agree that juries could find them guilty based on the state’s evidence.

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Under the deal, the Hauers could each face a maximum of 60 days in jail when they are sentenced next month, attorneys for the state and defense said. Prosecutor Michelle Zehnder Fischer said she has agreed to remain silent at sentencing, while the defense plans to ask for no jail time.

Both sides said the deal spares the boy from having to testify at trial.

The Hauers, of North Mankato, were charged last year with six felonies each, including neglect and malicious punishment of a child. In addition to feeding the boy only liquid and putting an alarm on his door so he would not steal food, authorities said, the couple also made him sleep in a sled because he wet the bed.

The boy was 8 years old and weighed less than 35 pounds last October when his mother took him to a hospital. Authorities said at that time that he was 3 feet, 5 inches tall, and about the weight of an average 4-year-old.

He was also found to have a slow heartbeat, anemia, and brain atrophy, the complaint said. Court records show he gained 15 pounds in just a month of hospitalization.

The Hauers adopted the boy and his two siblings from an abusive household in 2008.

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