Testimony Begins In Sect Mother's Murder Trial

The jury in the murder trial of a former Attleboro sect member on Thursday heard how an alert 10-month-old boy allegedly became an incapacitated infant that could no longer crawl.

Dennis Mingo was the prosecution's first witness in the Superior Court trial of Karen Robidoux (pictured, left), who is charged with second-degree murder in the 1999 starvation death of her infant son, Samuel.

Mingo testified about the inner workings of the sect and notes he found that described how Samuel was denied food.

"It just seemed like a miserable time, that he was getting thinner and crying, and not being fed," Mingo testified.

Earlier in opening statements, prosecutor Walter Shea described how Samuel Robidoux slowly starved over a 51-day period after his parents took him off solid food on the basis of a "vision" from another sect member, who told Karen Robidoux to feed her son only breast milk.

"She did nothing -- nothing to come to the aid of her child," Shea said.

The child died three days before his first birthday.

Defense attorney Joseph Krowski portrayed his client as a woman who was intimidated by and under the control of other members of the sect, including her husband, Jacques.

"Her frame of reference kept her in that dungeon," Krowski told the jury. "Samuel she fed, and she fed, and she fed until she bled."

Jacques Robidoux, the son of the sect's founder, was convicted of first-degree murder and is serving a life sentence.