Mickey Sparks and Patricia Laws

JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee couple accused of locking an autistic child in a cage have been given probation after pleading guilty to a lesser charge.

News outlets report Mickey Sparks and Patricia Laws pleaded guilty Thursday to child neglect in Washington County. Each is to serve a year of probation. They had been charged with aggravated child neglect prior to the plea deal.

Investigators said they found the then-10-year-old girl locked inside a cage in the couple's Jonesborough home in February 2017. She was removed from the home and is in state care.

According to court documents, Sparks and Laws said they had been using the cage for three to four years.

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