Woman sentenced to 28 years for nearly starving stepson to death, locking him in crawlspace

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Bradley and Tammi Bleimeyer Bradley and Tammi Bleimeyer
(ABC) -

Warning: This story includes a graphic image some readers may find disturbing.

A Texas stepmother convicted of starving her 5-year-old stepson and locking him in a crawlspace has been sentenced to 28 years in prison, prosecutors said Monday.

Tammi Bleimeyer's 28-year sentence comes after she was found guilty last week of injury to a child - serious bodily injury, according to the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

The boy's father, Bradley Bleimeyer, pleaded guilty two years ago to the same charge and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, prosecutors said.

PHOTO: Tammi Bleimeyer is pictured in this undated photo released by Mark Herman, Harris County Constable Precinct 4.

The little boy weighed just 29 pounds when he was rescued, after what prosecutors allege were at least months of starvation. 

The boy wore a diaper and "was often given only a slice of bread to eat and that was snatched away from him if he took too long to eat it," prosecutors said in a news release Monday.

Doctors had compared the little boy's level of malnourishment "to that of a Holocaust survivor," Assistant District Attorney Stephen Driver said.

PHOTO: Police released this photo in relation to a 2015 case in which a 5-year-old was starved and kept in a closet.

The 5-year-old was also forced to sleep under the stairs in an unfinished crawlspace -- dubbed the "Harry Potter Room" by the family -- where there were exposed nails and wiring, prosecutors said.

The boy was rescued after an older sibling came forward about the abuses in 2014, The Houston Chronicle reported.

Before officers responded, "Tammi Bleimeyer left the home with the victim," which kept police from checking on his well-being, Ebony Fleming of the Harris County District Attorney's Office told ABC News via email. Deputies ultimately found the abused boy and Tammi and Bradley Bleimeyer at a motel, Fleming said.

The boy, now 9 years old and in his mother's care, is healthy, "though doctors testified that his growth was permanently stunted," Fleming said.

Prosecutors said Brad Bleimeyer had taken the boy from his mother's care and she didn't see him for two years. When she learned her son was in danger, she "made several reports to police," Fleming said.

Tammi Bleimeyer's attorney, Matt Horak, told ABC News via email, "We respect the decision of the jury in this trial."

Horak added, "By all accounts from the witnesses," including testimony from the little boy's mother, "Tami was the victim of prolonged and brutal physical and emotional domestic violence."

"I wish that fact would have weighed in more with the jury’s punishment verdict," Horak said.