Titusville, FL (Florida Today) -- For a moment, the boy smiled. He laughed. He talked about Star Warsand Lego. He looked much better than he did in photos taken two yearsago.
Just a few minutes before he arrivedin court Wednesday for the trial of a woman accused of starving himnearly to death, the state laid out evidence against her. A Titusvilleinvestigator held up the tiny Spiderman pajamas he was wearing when hewas found - boys size 8. Prosecutors showed photos of how he looked atthe time. Intense light blue eyes. Gaunt cheeks. Skeletal ribs.
Butwhen he walked into the courtroom, there were no obvious signs of whathad happened. He's now 14, not quite 5-feet tall, pale, slender buthealthy. He had freckles, ears that stick out, a short, smart haircut.He wore a gray track jacket over a blue polo shirt buttoned to thethroat.
He spokesoftly as he recounted his time with Sharon Glass, who faces multiplefelony charges, including aggravated child abuse. Police said she andMichael Marshall were caregivers for the boy and other children.Marshall is in jail awaiting trial on similar charges.
Onthe stand, the boy gave short answers to the prosecutor's questions. Hefirst met Glass in 2009, when he was in the third grade. She was datingMarshall, his father. Soon, they were living together. Soon, he calledher "mom."
Soon, he started getting in trouble.
Thefirst time he recalled in court was when Glass accused him of stealingan iPod. He testified he didn't take it. He was later accused when otherthings went missing. He was punished for taking fruit off a tree andfor stealing food.
Abouta week before Christmas 2010, a fire destroyed their home. They stayedin a hotel. That would be one of many tough holidays for the boy.Through his description of the abuses that followed, he didn't shed atear. He didn't falter or change his tone of voice. Glass remainedequally expressionless.
The most serious punishment came in the house on Barna Avenue.
"I was constantly locked up," he told prosecutors.
Whenhe was put in his room, the boy would escape. When he did, Glass toldMarshall she'd leave him if he didn't lock the boy up.
The boy told the court they put him in a closet, secured with abungee cord and a desk. He stood before the jury to illustrate with alaser pointer how they wrapped a cord around the knobs of the slidingcloset doors to keep him inside. Glass and Marshall wouldn't talk tohim.
"Not unless they were telling me to be quiet, basically," he said.
He'dsleep on a pile of clothes. When they took that away, he'd pull hisarms and legs inside his shirt to stay warm. But he got in trouble forstretching it out.
They gave him diapers so they wouldn't have to let him out to relieve himself.
Hesaid holidays passed while he was inside - Valentines Day, St.Patrick's Day, Easter. He ate macaroni noodles. Ramen noodles. Sometimescanned vegetables.
When he did get out of the closet, he'd take food and hide it. Rolls, hamburgers, anything.
"They'd find a way to keep me secured," he said.
Hesaid his dad zip-tied him standing to the post of a bunk bed. He stoodthere for three days. His dad spoon-fed him mashed potatoes. Glass saw,standing outside the door to the room.
Theboy said he noticed himself getting smaller. He could wrap his handaround his arm. His clothes were baggy. He chewed through the zip tiesand escaped.
But he got caught. He got in trouble.
Later,he said, they locked him in a bathroom. They put a board over the onesmall window in the room, because they thought he was getting out thatway. He was warned against running away and he wouldn't leave throughthe window.
"Because it was too high," he said. Too high to get back in.
OnChristmas 2011, he was let out of the bathroom to watch other childrenopen gifts. He was put back in the bathroom and given a stocking full ofcoal.
"I just cried."
Hewaited until March 2012 to be rescued when a family friend raised thealarm. At the time, investigators said another month could have killedhim.
After hoursin court, the boy walked out of the room - away from stories of eatingtoothpaste to stave off hunger, away from the photo they showed him ofhis skinny self standing next to a police officer, away from drama thatwould later unfold when Glass cried as her own son testified about her.
Back then on Barna Avenue the boy called Glass "mom."
He doesn't call her that any more.
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