Couple Pleads Not Guilty To Starving Child To Death

A Texas couple accused of starving a 4-year-old boy to death have pleaded not guilty to murder in Durham.

Richard and Amber Dowen of Riverside, Texas, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Amber Dowen's son in September 2005.

They entered pleas yesterday and remain in custody.

Prosecutors want the couple to be tried together. Summer trial dates have been set.

Investigators say the boy weighed less than 20 pounds when he was found in the Dowens' care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the average weight of a 4-year-old boy is 35 to 45 pounds.

Durham police say Richard Dowen flagged down a deputy sheriff near Interstate 40 on August 31st, 2005. He told the deputy he needed to get his stepson to a hospital because he was unresponsive. The child died the next day at Duke University Hospital.

A healthy 15-month-old girl who also was in Dowen's tractor-trailer was taken into the county's custody.