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Aunt Convicted Of Murder, Torture In ‘Unspeakable’ Child Abuse Case

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Pictured is the Gardner home in Highland Park (WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell).

Pictured is the Gardner home in Highland Park (WWJ Photo/Mike Campbell).

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DETROIT (WWJ) – A Highland Park aunt and uncle who starved their 4-year-old nephew to death will be spending decades in prison.

Matilda Brown Gardner was convicted of murder, torture and child abuse. She will be sentenced June 12.

Her husband, Randy Gardner, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced 30 to 60 years in prison.

According to prosecutors, Robert Byrd died from malnutrition and neglect after he was beaten, handcuffed and denied food.

His body was found on Mother’s Day 2011 in a home police said had no beds, just blankets and a few pieces of furniture. Police said he had been physically abused and burned, and had bedsores, bruises and cuts from a razor blade.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy said it’s been very difficult taking in the facts of this case in which the child, “suffered… unspeakable acts, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in awhile.”

Matilda Brown Gardner was Robert’s legal guardian, but her attorney said it was her husband who was responsible for the abuse.  Prosecutors said in closing argument that she aided her husband by not reporting the abuse or attempting to prevent it.

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