Jessica Cox, Tennessee stepmom, guilty of torturing, starving handcuffed teens

Jessica Ann Cox 

Knox County Sheriff

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- A Knox County jury has convicted a woman on charges that she tortured and starved two teenage stepsons.

Forty-year-old Jessica Ann Cox was convicted Saturday of 23 counts of aggravated child abuse and one count of reckless endangerment following a six-day trial.

Prosecutors say the victims were 14 and 16 when they escaped their home in handcuffs in May 2013.

During the trial, one of the boys said they plotted their escape and listened for signs their father and stepmother had fallen asleep, reported the Knoxville News Sentinel.

“We had both come to the conclusion this had been enough, and we were going to run away,” one of the teens told jurors in Knox County Criminal Court last week. “We just didn’t know how to do it.”

According to court testimony, the boys were malnourished, beaten, had wrist injuries due to repeatedly being handcuffed, and were submerged in ice baths and forced to kneel on uncooked rice.

Sentencing has been set for April 21. Aggravated child abuse carries a punishment of up to 12 years on each count. Prosecutors say they will seek consecutive sentences.

The boy’s father also awaits sentencing in the case.