Mother sentenced in death of child who starved

Louisa Givens, seen in this 2013 photo, was Louisa Givens, seen in this 2013 photo, was sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years' probation after pleading guilty to attempted second-degree manslaughter and first-degree reckless endangerment. Photo Credit: Suffolk County District Attorney

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A young mother whose infant son starved to death last year in her care was sentenced Wednesday to 6 months in jail and 5 years' probation, and ordered to stay away from her now 3-year-old daughter, who was also malnourished.

Louisa Givens, 22, pleaded guilty in July to attempted second-degree manslaughter and first-degree reckless endangerment. She was released from Riverhead jail Wednesday, having already served more than her jail sentence since her arrest in December.

Her 10-month-old son, Kayden Givens, died on May 19, 2013, weighing 13 pounds. His sister, Ava Johnson, 2 years old at the time, weighed 15 pounds.

Suffolk County Court Judge John Toomey Jr. sentenced Givens as part of a plea deal reached with the Suffolk district attorney's office.

Assistant District Attorney Caren Manzello said in court that the outcome was a "fair view of the evidence," looking at the entire case.

She noted that Givens had taken her children both to a doctor and to day care while she worked just days before the boy died, and no one else had noticed anything alarming about the children.

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Givens' attorney, Craig McElwee of Hauppauge, said she did the best she could. She had been thrown out of her parents' house after her first pregnancy but held a job and tried to provide for her children. But her lack of education and support hampered her, he said.

She was exhausted from working long hours and not equipped to recognize signs of malnutrition, he said. "She didn't know what was wrong with him," McElwee said.

Six months before Kayden died, she and her children spent time in a Farmingville shelter after superstorm Sandy. She told a Newsday reporter then that she went without food for four days to ensure that her children could eat.

Thanks to two friends of hers, McElwee said, his client will have a small apartment and a janitorial job. She earned a high school degree while in jail, he said.

Givens wiped tears from her face as she signed an order of protection barring her from having contact with her daughter, who is in foster care.

McElwee said Givens hopes to be able to see her again someday.

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