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Mom asks for prison release; cites past abuse for bad decisions

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — The mother of a Struthers boy who admitted to lying to police to cover up his death at the hands of her boyfriend is asking to be released from prison early.

Shain Widdersheim, 42, the mother of Teddy Foltz, 14, who died in January 2013, filed the request Wednesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum, who sentenced her to 15 years in prison in September 2013.

Foltz died Jan. 26, 2013, five days after he was hospitalized for a beating he received from Widdersheim’s boyfriend, Zaryl Bush, 52.

Bush was sentenced in June 2013 to 33 years to life in prison for Foltz’s death. He has appealed his sentence several times and each appeal has been denied.

Widdersheim was sentenced after she pleaded guilty to a second degree felony charge of endangering children; two third degree felony charges of endangering children, which covered abuse of Teddy’s two brothers at the hands of Bush; and tampering with evidence. She was sentenced well above the sentencing recommendation in the case by Judge Krichbaum, who at the time told her: “Mother is a sacred title no one deserves to call you.”

Widdersheim was not present when Teddy received the injuries that led to his death, but she lied to protect Bush. At her sentencing, she said she lied because she was afraid of him.

In her request for release filed by attorney James Gentile, Widdersheim said in a letter to the judge she realized in prison how her childhood environment growing up influenced her decisions when she was an adult. Widdersheim wrote that she was sexually abused by a family member for a prolonged period of time and that left her incapable of making good decisions, especially around a person like Bush.

“It wasn’t until I came to prison that I became aware of my childhood impacting my decision making as an adult,” she wrote.

Widdersheim has received treatment for the trauma inflicted on her by Bush and because of her childhood while she has been in prison. Gentile included several letters of support in his motion for Widdersheim from people who pledged to work with her if she is released from prison.

The motion also points out that Widdersheim did eventually cooperate with police and not only told them the circumstances surrounding Teddy’s death but also the abuse Bush heaped on her other two sons.

Both sons have since been adopted and Widdersheim also did not stand in the way of that, the motion says. She wrote she takes full responsibility for Teddy’s death and the loss of her sons.

“I accept full responsibility for my actions and inactions that led to the murder of my son,” she wrote. “I am exceedingly sorrowful for my shortcomings as a mother that resulted in Teddy’s death and the loss of custody and contact with my twin sons.”

She said the death of Teddy and the loss of his brothers will be with her the rest of her life and impact every future decision she makes.

Gentile wrote that Widdersheim had served more than eight half years of her sentence.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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