UPDATE: Couple accused of keeping autistic child in cage given probation

Patricia Laws, 44, and Mickey Sparks, 64, received probation following a child abuse hearing in Criminal Court on Thursday in Jonesborough. (WCYB Archive)

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WCYB) - A Washington County, Tennessee couple arrested in 2017 after their autistic daughter was found in a makeshift cage received probation following a hearing in Criminal Court on Thursday.

Mickey Sparks, 64, and Patricia Laws, 44, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of child neglect but their girl, who was discovered by investigators laying on a mattress in filthy conditions, remains in state care.

The couple was indicted in March 2017, a month after the discovery at their home near Jonesborough. Court records obtained by WCYB said the couple told DCS officials that keeping her in the cage was the only way they could control her.

Sparks and Laws also have three other children that remain in their care.

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