Woman vomits on stand after being shown pictures of disabled 15-year-old son she starved to death

A mother who was facing trial for killing her disabled son brought caught proceedings to a halt when she vomited during the trial.

Shanda Vander Ark, 44, a mother from Michigan was on trial on Friday for child abuse, murder and torture of her disabled 15-year-old son, Timothy Ferguson. The child had died from malnourishment and hypothermia, according to the autopsy.

During the trial, Vander Ark claimed that she gave her son a warm bath on the night he died, a claim that was disputed by her older son, Paul Ferguson, 20.

The 15-year-old was found dead on July 2022 in a closet, and was covered in a tarp. While in court, prosecutor Matt Roberts grilled Vander Ark on the details of this alleged warm bath she set for her son.

He then proceeded to show her pictures of his malnourished body and asked if this is what her son looked like when she put him in the bath tub.

Shanda Vander Ark, 44, a mother from Michigan was on trial on Friday for child abuse, murder and torture.Credit: Court TV

At this point, the mother covered her mouth and began retching into a basket that was underneath the stand.

Addressing the court room, Vander Ark said ‘sorry’ but continued vomiting. The judge then prompted the court room to evacuate.

When the trial recommenced, Vander Ark did not return to the court room and she was found guilty of murder and child abuse by the jury. She is to be sentenced on January 29, 2024, and faces life in prison.

Paul Ferguson, who also faced one count of first-degree child abuse for his alleged hand in the crimes committed by his mother, told investigators he had given Timothy an ice bath that day, on the instructions of his mother.

The 15-year-old was found dead on July 2022 in a closet and was covered in a tarp. Credit: Court TV

He told them he had left him in there for at least four hours. The 15 year-old suffered these ice baths as part of his ongoing abuse alongside a slew of others. This included being shackled and zip ties being used to restrain him, while also being deprived of sleep. It was also said that she fed her son hot sauce, and got Ferguson to taunt his little brother with food.

Ferguson, allegedly at the instruction of his mother had also been told to taunt his younger brother and explained his willingness to inflict this abuse due to his low self-esteem.

“I’d say it’s something close to Stockholm Syndrome,” he said.

“I desire to find a role model that, due to my own low self-esteem, I would do anything to make them proud of me.”

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