Couple sentenced for what law enforcement calls one of the worst child abuse cases in the Ozarks

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Friday in Springfield, a woman is sentenced to two years and a man for three and a half years for what some officials are calling the worst case of child abuse they've seen.

It's a story we've been following for two years.

Kaylah Hill pleaded guilty to abuse or neglect of a child and endangering the welfare of a child. She wanted to avoid going to trial.

Her co-defendant, Dustin Richard, decided to take his charges and go in front of a judge.

An important witness, Hill's seven year-old son had to testify. Forced to recall the horrific abuse he and his sister, three years old at the time, had to endure.

"Sigh. This case has been one of the most troubling cases."

Hill's attorney, Joseph Passanise, draws a deep breath when reflecting on this case of child abuse.

At one time eight kids lived in a house on Florida Street, but only two, seemed to be abused.

"Obviously it was an emotional, heart-wrenching case," says Passanise.

The children went days without food. They were beaten, told investigators they were tied to chairs and thrown down stairs.

The three year old toddler was kept in isolation, in what investigators describe as holes in walls, inside closets, with insulation and nails exposed.

Passanise says, "Kaylah is a good person. She messed up."

Court documents show, what officials are calling, one of the worst cases of abuse. The toddler was so malnourished, hair was falling out. She had scratches and cuts all over her body. Her feet swollen causing her toes to turn blue.

She was so sick, doctors say she may have died if not for a family member taking her to the hospital the day after Christmas, back in 2013.

"It was extremely emotional and heart-wrenching and that ultimately weighed on Kaylah," says Passanise.

Hill's son, a 7 year-old boy, at the time was forced to eat at school, because he couldn't at home.

Passanise explains, "It was just not a stable, safe environment. Kaylah did the best she could at the time. She was not equipped. She's now equipped, because she gets it."

He says it's why Hill didn't want to go to trial.

"Not one time did she ever waiver on not accepting responsibility," he says.

Prosecutors say she failed her kids, not protecting them from her live-in boyfriend Dustin Richard.

Her attorney says she's changed.

"We hear it all the time. When folks accept responsibility, they've found religion. It may sometimes mislead the community and the court, true acceptance and responsibility. But what you have here is true conversion in a person," says Passanise.