Couple charged in boy's starvation

Adopted son, 8, weighed 37 pounds when found in their Harford home

August 03, 2005|By Richard Irwin and William Wan | Richard Irwin and William Wan,SUN STAFF

A Harford County couple have been charged with manslaughter and related offenses in the January death of their 8-year-old adopted son - apparently from starvation.

Samuel Merryman, 37, and his wife, Donna Merryman, 42, both of the 4400 block of Flintville Road in Whiteford, were each freed on $50,000 bail Monday, authorities said.

The boy, Dennis Merryman, was one of four Russian children adopted in 2000 by the couple, who also have two children of their own and one from a previous relationship, according to their lawyer, Carl Schlaich.

Medics dispatched to the Merryman home Jan. 22 found the boy emaciated and unconscious, and were unable to resuscitate him. At the time of his death, the boy weighed 37 pounds, authorities said.

The county sheriff's office began an investigation that lasted six months, and Friday the couple were arrested - each charged with manslaughter, causing the death of a child in their custody and reckless endangerment, authorities said.

Schlaich said the Russian children "came with health problems" when they were adopted and "Dennis had more than his share."

The parents were released Monday after posting property bond, Harford District Court Commissioner Steven Adler said last night.

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