NORWALK, Ohio – Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a couple accused of making some of their 11 adopted special needs children sleep in cages.
Michael and Sharen Gravelle are charged with 16 counts of felony child endangering and if convicted could face one to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000 for each count.
The process of seating a jury in Huron County Common Pleas Court could take days, with 100 people yet to be questioned. Earlier, about 350 potential jurors were sent questionnaires, and 250 were weeded out because of bias or other issues, said Ken Myers, who represents Sharen Gravelle.
"There is no case. We're going to win this thing," said attorney Richard Drucker, who represents Michael Gravelle.
The youngsters were placed in foster care last fall after a county social worker likened the wood and chicken-wire enclosures to cages or kennels. The Gravelles have denied mistreating the children, who were ages 1 to 15 at the time.
Sharen Gravelle testified at a custody hearing that she and her husband built bunk beds for the children and eventually added chicken wire enclosures and alarms to help prevent them from harming themselves or one another, wandering at night and getting dangerous kitchen utensils.
The children have problems such as fetal alcohol syndrome and a disorder that involves eating nonfood items.
The Gravelles lost permanent custody in March and have not been granted visitation since then, Myers said.