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Mother gets 4 years of imprisonment for forcing her son to sit in cage

A mother was sentenced to four years in prison for forcing her son to sit in a dog cage.

Jessica Botzko, 28, fought back tears as she told the judge that she was not a monster.

"I'm not a criminal," she said. "Just a mother who loves her boys."

Botzko pleaded no contest last month to child endangering.

She and her boyfriend, John Westover, 37, were jailed after their 10-year-old son escaped their Toledo home when he grabbed his 5-year-old brother and ran away while his dad was out and his mom was dancing at a strip club. He told officers that he was tired of being put in a dog cage, police said.

The oldest boy, at times, had to wear a remote-controlled shock collar and was repeatedly zapped by the device meant to train animals, police said.

The boy told officers that he also was caged when his father was using or making drugs, police said.

Judge Linda Jennings denied Botzko's plea for probation and sentenced her to just less than the maximum five-year sentence.

Westover has pleaded not guilty to child endangering charges and is awaiting trial later this month.

Officers found a collapsible cage and the shock collar in the couple's mobile home. The cage, less than 2 feet (60 centimeters) tall and wide, had a chain across the top with two locks on each end, police said.

Authorities said the older boy, found with his brother a few blocks from their home away on a neighbor's porch, weighed only 61 pounds (28 kilograms), appeared thin for his age and told officers he had not eaten in a couple days.

Police said their home was filled with dirty clothes, garbage and empty boxes.

Neighbors said they never saw the boys playing outside or walking to school. Some had no idea the boys lived in the trailer home with their parents.

They have been turned over to Lucas County Children Services and were placed with another family.