A Gisela woman will spend at least several years in prison after pleading guilty to one of the “worst child neglect cases” the Gila County Attorney’s Office said it has seen.
A judge will sentence Julie Ann Crosser, 38, May 26 for child abuse as well as a separate DUI case a jury found her guilty of earlier this month.
Crosser’s trial would have started Wednesday, but she decided at the last minute to plead guilty, said prosecutor Joy Riddle with the GCAO.
Riddle said she planned to show the jury 122 photographs documenting the conditions Gila County Sheriff’s Office deputies found Crosser’s then-14-year-old son was living in.
“It is the worst child abuse case in terms of living conditions I had ever seen,” she said. “Wall-to-wall it was covered in dog feces, clothes, rotten food, just covered in black.”
Deputies discovered the “horrific” scene by happenstance, Riddle said. While attempting to serve Crosser for another case in November 2011, they found her son alone, reportedly covered in marks and spider bites at a Gisela home.
Deputies noted a stench of rotting food and feces in the home, which had no running water or electricity, Riddle said.
“It was a very bad case,” said Shawn Fuller, chief deputy with the GCAO.
Her son reportedly had no way to call his mother when deputies arrived and no way to heat the home.
Child Protective Services had already removed Crosser’s daughter from the home, but not the son.
A month before deputies found her son at the home in 2011, officers had stopped Crosser on the Beeline Highway for a traffic violation. A jury recently convicted her for possession of drug paraphernalia, methamphetamine and DUI in that case.
After the trial, a judge placed Crosser in jail awaiting the child abuse case.
Riddle said Crosser agreed to the plea deal partly to spare her son from having to testify against his mother. The boy is doing better and living with his father, she said.