Thursday, July 23, 2009
Molly & Scott McCurry Sentenced to 20 Years for Child Abuse
Molly and Scott McCurry, a Spartanburg couple accused of abusing three boys in their care, received a 20-year prison sentence Thursday afternoon.
Both were convicted of three counts of child abuse and three charges of unlawful conduct toward a child.
The jury received the case around 12:30 p.m. Thursday and returned the guilty verdict shortly after 3:00 p.m.
After the verdict was announced, Scott McCurry's lawyer requested for the jury to be polled, and each juror said "guilty."
Less than an hour later, the judge asked the McCurrys if they wanted to speak before he decided on a sentence. Both declined to say anything. Their attorneys asked for leniency.
The judge sentenced the couple to the maximum of 20 years for the child abuse charges and 10 years for the other charges. However, those sentences will run concurrently, meaning they will spend only a maximum of 20 years behind bars.
"I don't think they'll survive, if you want my opinion," said Debra Justice, the victims' aunt.
News 4's Mike McCormick reported Scott McCurry's family seemed visibly upset in the courtroom.
The victim's relatives said the couple "got what was coming to them," and they were grateful for the verdict and sentence.
The neighbors who reported the abuse, Tammy and William Lister, were also in the courtroom for the sentencing.
"We're so happy for them. We hope they get some justice. We hope they get a family that will treat them and love them like they should be loved and deserve. They really deserve it," Tammy Lister said.
Susan Reese, the assistant solicitor, said she is "just very happy it's over. Very happy for them boys and just very happy the judge gave them the sentence he did."
The McCurrys must serve 85 percent of their sentence before they are eligible for parole.
Both of the McCurrys asked for a new trial, but the judge refused.
They have 10 days to appeal the decision.
The McCurrys had one last chance to talk to the jury Thursday morning. Scott McCurry testified that he found evidence of Molly McCurry smoking crack about three months before they were arrested. Molly McCurry then took the stand to deny that, and said she passed a drug test after the arrest. After that, closing arguments began.
Molly McCurry's attorney cast doubt on Scott McCurry.
"Her mother overheard Scott making threats against Molly," the attorney said.
Scott McCurry's attorney cast doubt on Molly McCurry.
"So the woman who told you that she didn't tie the kids up -- 'It was Scott' -- that she didn't beat the kids -- 'It was Scott' -- that she didn't make them stand in the corner -- 'It was Scott' -- she's the same woman who told you, 'He bought milk. He bought cereal. He bought Pop Tarts. He bought lunch meat.' He bought those things," said defense attorney Doug Brannon.
The assistant solicitor cast blame on them both.
"The truth is, ladies and gentlemen, that these boys were being starved, and they were being starved around the clock, and it took two people to do this," said Assistant Solicitor Susan Reese.
The defense for both of the McCurrys called for a retrial. Both were denied.
Couple Arrested In 2006
The McCurrys were arrested after deputies found the boys in their Holly Springs home “extremely thin and weak” and "literally skin and bones,” according to the arrest warrant.
The boys were taken into protective custody after they were found to be severely malnourished, burned and bruised.
Spartanburg County Deputy Len Burgess was the first officer to arrive at the home. Burgess said the McCurrys told him that the whole family had a stomach virus and was losing weight.
A doctor who treated the boys at the hospital testified that their conditions were not caused by a virus, but were the result of chronic malnourishment, starvation and neglect.
A former Wellford police officer who also went to the McCurry home that day testified that all three of the boys had visible lice in their hair.
One of the boys, who is 10 years old now, testified on Tuesday and told the court that, at first, he liked living with the McCurrys. Then, he testified, “everything changed.”
He said he was tied up at night to his bunk bed and was not untied until morning. He said that, if he had to use the bathroom, he had to use it in the bunk bed.
Molly and Dennis Scott McCurry have separate attorneys. The attorney for Molly McCurry indicated in opening arguments that the couple was poor. The attorney for Dennis Scott McCurry indicated that he made a good salary, but that someone else had squandered the money.
On Wednesday, both Scott and Molly McCurry testified in the case along with their biological daughter.
Molly McCurry's Testimony
Molly McCurry said she never starved or harmed the three boys, who were ages 5, 7 and 9 when their aunt and her husband, Dennis Scott McCurry were arrested in 2006. The McCurrys were legal guardians of the boys.
Molly McCurry said Wednesday that she fed the boys three small meals a day and some snacks after the Department of Social Services told her to cut back on their food. She said DSS told her that the boys were "known to eat out of the trash" and would eat themselves sick.
"I fed them breakfast, usually a bowl of cereal or Pop Tarts in the morning," Molly McCurry said. "Then lunchtime, since the refrigerator was messed up, I gave them like two bologna sandwiches or two ham sandwiches, whatever meat we had that we went and bought."
She admitted that the boys had been tied up, but said she and her husband tied them up because it was the only way that she could keep the older boys from sexually assaulting the 5-year-old.
She testified that she and her husband took turns staying awake at night to try to prevent the boys from sexually abusing each other. She said, when they were unable to stay awake, they tied the boys up.
Molly McCurry testified that her husband had once broken her arm when she tried to stop him from beating one of the boys. She said she had previously lied and said she broke her arm in a fall.
She also said that Scott McCurry punished the boys by making them stand while wearing backpacks filled with either cat litter or bottles of bleach.
After pictures were shown of the boys in court, the assistant solicitor asked McCurry if she should have taken the youngest boy to see a doctor. McCurry answered, "Yes, ma'am."
The McCurry's 13-year-old biological daughter also took the stand on Wednesday. She testified that she lived in the same house with the boys at the time of the alleged abuse.
The 13-year-old said that she saw her father spank the boys with a belt and saw her mother tie them up. She also said she remembered a time when the family got food and the boys were then made to stand and look the other way while she and her parents ate.
She said that she would wait until her parents were asleep and would sneak food in to the boys.
Scott McCurry's Testimony
Last to take the stand on Wednesday was Dennis Scott McCurry.
He and his ex-wife said little to defend each other throughout the trial.
Scott McCurry couldn't account for how the food he bought did not wind up filling the stomachs of the boys at his home.
Some of his credibility, especially about his work record, was called into question during cross examination.
He also addressed some of the accusations against him from his ex-wife and daughter. He denied making the boys stand with heavy book bags and he also said he never forced the boys to stand and watch while the rest of the family ate.
But he was at a loss to explain how the faces of the boys became images that brought tears to the people in the courtroom who saw them.
Solicitor: “But you told Tracy Moss they looked fine to you. “
Scott McCurry: “Yes. And I know those pictures knocked me for a loop.”
Solicitor: “So this little boy looks fine to you?”
Scott McCurry: “No. “
Solicitor: “He didn't look fine to you?”
Scott McCurry: “No. Not in that picture he does not.”
Solicitor: “Well, this picture was taken in your house.”
Scott McCurry: “I know.“
Solicitor: “Every night you saw these kids.”
Scott McCurry: “I can not explain that. I really can't. I blame myself for that.”
Previous Stories: July 22, 2009: Witnesses Emotional In Child Starvation Trial