Edward Buckholz, who pleaded guilty to abusing and neglecting his young twins in their New Eagle home, will serve vastly fewer years in jail than the children’s mother, who was sentenced earlier this month in the case.
Washington County Judge Katherine Emery on Friday sentenced Buckholz to two to four years in prison after she weighed his “limited intellectual abilities” and cooperation with prosecutors in the case.
Buckholz, 34, mumbled as he apologized for the treatment of his son and daughter but placed most of the blame on the twins’ mother, Roxanne Taylor, for the neglect. He said he thought it was Taylor’s responsibility for their care and that she ignored him when he tried to offer parenting advice.
“I wish she would’ve listened to me,” Buckholz said, “but she didn’t.”
But Emery scolded Buckholz on his parenting abilities and reluctance to take the children out of the home when problems surfaced.
“You should’ve told the mother you would’ve taken care of the children,” Emery said.
“Yes, I should have,” Buckholz responded.
“There are plenty of single dads who raise their children,” Emery continued. “These children have not been able to reach their full potential because of you. They’ve been harmed.”
The couple’s son was 6 years old when he was found wandering outside the family’s New Eagle home on a frigid February morning. Police said the boy and his twin sister were abused and malnourished. Investigators found the inside of the home in shambles and the children with multiple bruises and severely underweight.
Taylor, 26, was convicted in July on charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment and endangering the welfare of children. Emery sentenced her to 14 to 50 years in prison Sept. 13.
However, Buckholz pleaded guilty to two counts of felony aggravated assault June 25. He has been serving time in Washington County jail since his arrest in March 2012, which means he could be released from prison early next year.
Assistant District Attorney Traci McDonald, who also prosecuted the Taylor case, said his sentence was appropriate because of his role in the neglect. She said it was Taylor who decided to put chain locks on the children’s bedroom door and kitchen refrigerator.
“She was the one who was initiating all of that,” McDonald said. “But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t guilty because he just stood by.”
McDonald added that both Taylor and Buckholz have signed away their parental rights to the twins. The boy and girl are in separate foster homes, where McDonald said they’re developing at a better rate than before.
“There’s no way these children will ever return to those parents,” she said.