A Minnesota couple let their son suffer and refused to get him medical treatment before he died at age 7, covered in his own vomit, according to charges filed against them.
Timothy Johnson, 39, and his wife, Sarah, 38, have been charged with gross misdemeanor child neglect over the March 2015 death of their adopted son, Seth, authorities said.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said his office initially considered the case a homicide, but after a yearlong investigation could not find evidence that the boy's bruises and wounds were the result of abuse by the parents, who had adopted him when he was 4.
“As a result, we charged Timothy and Sarah Johnson with the most serious crime the law allows: Neglect of a child resulting in substantial physical harm, which is a gross misdemeanor,” Freeman said in a statement.
The couple "refused to do what most parents would have done and take him to a doctor," the prosecutor said.
A phone message left for the couple by InsideEdition.com was not immediately returned.
“He had bruising all over his body. He had two large lesions on the back of his heels. The parents admitted to police that his behavior had changed, that he wasn’t sleeping, was throwing himself down stairs and was taking hours to eat,” Freeman said.
The Johnsons had “issues with going to doctors” and chose not to seek medical treatment for their son’s wounds and ailments in the weeks leading up to his death, according to a charging document.
The boy's cause of death was acute pancreatitis and possible sepsis.
The parents had left the boy in the care of his 16-year-old brother while they attended an out-of-town wedding, the prosecutor said.
The teen called his mom and dad to say Seth wasn’t eating or talking and couldn’t get out of bed, the charging document said. The couple was going to leave before the wedding, but decided to stay after learning the boy had eaten some Cheerios, according to the court document.
When the parents returned home, they picked up Seth, set him at a table and placed two bites of pizza in his mouth, prosecutors said. Then they bathed him and put him on a mattress on the floor of their bedroom, the document said.
The next morning, Seth was unresponsive and covered in vomit, and the parents called 911, according to the document.