A mother and father were sentenced on Jan. 21 to 15 and eight years of active time, respectively, for child abuse and child neglect.
St. Mary’s County Circuit Court Judge Joseph M. Stanalonis sentenced Angela Renee Carter Fowler, 31, and William Dennis Fowler, 37, after nearly two hours of testimony. “This is probably the worst I have seen,” the judge said, referring to child abuse cases that he’s seen in 25 years of criminal work.
Both made plea agreements in the case, which involved four minor children under age 7.
Angela Carter Fowler, who was a stepmother to the three oldest children and mother to the youngest, had been in jail without bond following her arrest on May 20, 2020. She pleaded guilty to two counts of felony child abuse after being indicted for a total of 12 counts of child abuse and four counts of child neglect. She received a total of 30 years from two consecutive 15-year sentences.
William Fowler, who is the father to all four children, had been out on an ankle monitor most of the time since his arrest. He pleaded guilty to four counts of child neglect after being indicted for eight counts of child abuse and four counts of child neglect. He received a total of 20 years from four consecutive five-year sentences.
Assistant state’s attorney Sarah Proctor said the three older children were regularly locked in an upstairs room at their home with a camera in the 21700 block of North Essex Drive in Lexington Park while their parents went to a hotel with the youngest child to take pills or while Angela Carter Fowler delivered food with her vehicle.
Proctor quoted a text from someone in the home about a dog eating one of the kid’s feces on the floor.
Detective Austin Schultz testified that he found feces and blood on a mattress in the children’s room and “everywhere in the room.”
Proctor said a pillow with blood stains and blood from the floor were identified as coming from the three oldest children.
She quoted a text that said, “Who’s watching the kids?” and another that said, “They’re not mine. I don’t own them.”
From the texts, Proctor said, “It’s obvious they have a substance abuse problem.”
Nicole Moneymaker, a Maryland Department of Social Services worker, testified that all four children have been placed in foster care together.
The two older children, both girls, have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said.
Proctor called placing the children in one room with one bed “torture.” She said the children had food withheld from them as a form of punishment because Angela Carter Fowler didn’t want to change their diapers and such.
William Fowler’s 14-year-old daughter, who also lived in the home, said she snuck Ensure to the children so they could get some nourishment, Proctor said.
Bradley Warby, William Fowler’s defense attorney, said he “checked out” of his marriage due to constant fighting with his wife about the treatment of his children and his personal relationship with his wife.
Warby noted there was no allegation that the father was a primary participant in the abuse.
William Fowler cooperated with the state’s attorney’s office and completed parenting classes and received mental health counseling, Warby said.
“He’s been on an ankle monitor and came up clean for drugs and maintained his employment,” Warby said. “He wants his children to be OK, and hopes to one day be reunited with his kids.”
Warby said William Fowler removed the kids from the home for a short time, but returned. Warby said Angela Carter Fowler threatened that the father would never see their son if he left with the other three kids.
“She’s young and bit off more than she could chew,” Angela Carter Fowler’s defense attorney, Su Alexandria Chun, said, adding that the woman fought for custody of the children following her marriage to William Fowler in September 2018.
Chun said Angela Carter Fowler suffered from a traumatic childhood and was abused. Chun alleged that the woman had been sexually abused by her stepfather. Chun said Angela Carter Fowler has post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.
“There’s nothing but losers in this case,” Stanalonis said, noting “the evidence of abuse and neglect is horrific.”
He ordered that the couple not have unsupervised visits with the four youngest children unless they get a recommendation from a therapist and a revised court order.
Both were given credit for 611 days served and ordered to complete five years of supervised probation upon their releases from prison.