A jury in York County, Pennsylvania, have found Michael and Nanette Craver guilty of involuntary manslaughter of their adopted son from Russia. Prosecutors had been pressing for a verdict of murder.
The Cravers have also been found guilty of child endangerment and conspiracy.
The verdict of involuntary manslaughter carries a maximum punishment of seven years in prison, while murder can carry the death sentence.
Seven-year-old Nathaniel Craver (Ivan Skorobogatov) died on August 25 2009 from multiple injuries including severe brain trauma.
After it emerged that the boy had Russian citizenship, Russia’s Investigation Committee also filed a criminal charges in the case of Ivan Skorobogatov.
Investigators established that the child had suffered repeated beatings (over 80 bruises and injuries of which 20 left traces on his head) and undernourishment from his adoptive parents.
The Cravers, for their part, insist the boy’s wounds were self-inflicted and claim Nathaniel had been suffering from a psychiatric disorder which caused him to self-harm.
The Cravers, who have been in detention since February 2010, have now been released on bail of $50,000 per head.
Russian children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov commented that the American couple merit the death sentence for the torture and killing of the Russian child.
“You got to pay your life for a child’s life,” the ombudsman said, admitting that the decision to release the Cravers on bail had shocked him.
“Such decisions discredit the value of a child’s life,” he said, expressing the hope that they still might get a stiff sentence.
The American penal system is such that the Cravers could spend even less time in prison than even this modest verdict presupposes.
The ombudsman stressed that Russia must lose no time in ratifying the Russian-American adoption agreement that would regulate such cases and prevent more from occurring.
The final verdict in the case of the death of Ivan Skorobogatov will be announced on November 18.