ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 Utah) The mother accused of starving her 12-year-old son until he weighed just 30 pounds was overwhelmed by motherhood, according Brandy Jaynes' attorney.
Edward Flint does not deny his client's 12-year-old son was malnourished and spent time in an upstairs bathroom, but he argues there are two sides to this story.
"She had a breakdown in her ability to care for her family, Flint said.
Flint says what happened inside the Toquerville home boils down to an untreated mental illness and the inability to care for a child with special needs.
"She seemed to me like an overwhelmed mother who didn't get help from the outside and didn't know how to get help, or ask for help from the outside," Flint said, who first met with his client on Sunday.
Flint says the boy was removed from public school about three years ago when he started showing signs of severe autism. He was never officially tested nor treated for the developmental disorder.
"It's a terrible thing that the child suffered greatly. But how much of that is due to an overall failure to get help when the child needed help," Flint asked.
As with most children with autism, the 12-year-old struggles with gastrointestinal issues, which is why Jaynes says her son withered to just 30 pounds and was in the bathroom.
"There was still a lot of throwing up and a lot of diarrhea problems. He didn't want to be too far away from the toilet that he needed to use," Flint said.
Washington County law enforcement accuses Jaynes of locking her son inside the bathroom for up to two years. Investigators say it's the worst case of child abuse they've ever seen.
The 36-year-old remains in jail, held on a $20,000 cash only bond for second degree felony child abuse.
"She feels horribly guilty about it. She resents herself. She regrets that she hasn't [got help.] She's really laying a lot of blame on herself," Flint said.
Jaynes' husband took the child to Dixie Regional Medical Center on January 8. Flint says the man was living at home during the alleged child abuse, along with the victim's 12-year-old twin sister and a younger brother.
As of Wednesday, the father has not been charged with a crime. The case is still under investigation.
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