Fayetteville grandmother faces 2 years max for starving disabled child to death

Fayetteville grandmother faces 2 years max for starving disabled child to death
Geneen Romalia Ballenger can only serve two years because she has no prior record and investigators could not prove intent. (Source: WNCN)

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — A Fayetteville grandmother charged in the death of her grandson could only serve two years of prison time, according to court documents.

Court documents say Geneen Romalia Ballenger can only serve two years because she has no prior record and investigators could not prove intent.

On April 15, Fayetteville police responded to 1615 Berriedale Dr. in reference to an unresponsive child inside of the residence. Upon arrival, officers found a deceased child inside of the home.

Investigators say there were a total of six adults, including Ballenger, who was listed as the primary caregiver. Eight juveniles, ranging in age from three to 16 years old also lived in the home.

Ballenger had been in the care of the juveniles since April of 2017, court documents say.

The deceased child was eight years old and was born a twin. The child’s twin is healthy and has no obvious mental conditions, court documents say. The child’s mother resides in Florida and his father is deceased.

The child’s mother advised that he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and epilepsy and had a feeding tube put in placed in 2016 due to undernourishment.

Officers noticed that the deceased child was severely malnourished. EMS personnel estimated that the child weighed 25 pounds.

Court documents say that police found the other juveniles inside a closet with the door shut. Ballenger had not registered any of the children in school nor provided them with proper medical care.

The deceased child had only been seen a total of four times since being in Ballenger’s care. Each visit was to replace his feeding tube that had fallen out, court documents say.

Medical examiners ruled the child’s death as acute bibasilar bronchopneumonia in the setting of starvation.

The child weighed 18 pounds at death and the manner of death was ruled a homicide.

Copyright 2019 WECT. All rights reserved.