Boyfriend pleads guilty in case of 10-year-old malnourished girl found in closet

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The boyfriend of a woman whose daughter was found malnourished in the closet of a Kansas City apartment pleaded guilty to child endangerment Friday afternoon.

Marcus Benson pleaded guilty to one count of child endangerment in the first degree in connection with the discovery of a 10-year-old girl, known as "LP," in June 2012, according to Jackson County Prosecutors.

A second child endangerment count against Benson was dismissed as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said.

Benson was sentenced to five years probation. The terms of his probation prohibit him from being in contact with the victim or anyone under the age of 17. If he violates those terms, he will spend seven years in prison.

LP was found June 22 in horrible living conditions.

While conducting a welfare check that morning based on a tip to the Missouri Department of Family Services ( DFS), police went to the apartment complex at 1318 Highland.

They found closet doors tied shut in a bedroom which reeked of urine. After hearing the girl respond to their calls, police cut a rope used to tie the doorknobs of the closet together.

They found her severely malnourished and living in a closet covered in her own feces.

"Give or take a few (pounds) she weighs about a third of what a 10-year-old should weigh," said Kansas City Police Captain Steve Young.

Officials believe the girl had been living in the closet for an extended period of time. Officers discovered the closet was her bedroom and bathroom. The closet was rigged where it could only be opened from the outside.

LP's mother, Jacole Prince was arrested and charged with child abuse, endangering the welfare of a child and assault. Prosecutors say Prince told them she kept her daughter hidden because she knew people would be able to tell the girl was not healthy.

Prince's trial date has been set for June 17, 2013.

We'll have more on this story on 41 Action News and KSHB.com.

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