BOISE, Idaho — A Kuna, Idaho, couple who starved their then-5-year-old adoptive daughter to the point that she had a heart attack will not spend any time in prison after an Ada County judge sentenced them to probation.
Fourth District Senior Judge Darla Williamson placed Gwendalyn and Byron Buthman on probation for four years, according to a news release from the Ada County Prosecutor’s Office, and ordered them to complete 300 hours of community service apiece. Ada County prosecutors had asked for a prison sentence “due to the seriousness of the offenses.”
The abuse and neglect of the girl, identified by the initials E.B. in court records, occurred between October 2015 and March 2018, according to those records. The girl was between 3 and 6 when she lived with the Buthmans and was forced to eat a vegetable protein powder, isolated from the rest of her family and made to sleep in a laundry room — sometimes without a mattress, the Idaho Statesman previously reported.
In October 2017, E.B. had a heart attack as a result of “extreme malnourishment” and being forced to go outside wearing only a diaper, according to the release. While E.B. survived and is now “thriving,” prosecutors said the “abuse continued even after the cardiac arrest event.”
The prosecution recommended that the Buthmans spend at least five years in prison before being eligible for parole, with 15 years spent either in prison, on parole or both, according to the news release.
“We appreciate those who intervened on the child’s behalf, as they prevented a possible child homicide,” said Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts in the release.
The Statesman reached out to the prosecutor’s office and the court for further comment.
A 12-person jury found the Buthmans guilty of two felonies last June: injury to a child and an enhancement of infliction of great bodily injury. They were also each found guilty of a misdemeanor count of injury to a child. The maximum sentence under Idaho law for felony injury to a child is 10 years in prison.
Williamson gave the couple credit for the single day they spent in jail and placed them on what is called a withheld judgment. This means that they can ask the court to vacate their convictions if they follow the terms of their probation.
A no-contact order was also issued, preventing the Buthmans from communicating with E.B. for the next 30 years.