POTEAU, Okla. – A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a 62-year-old man who was charged with child neglect and sexual abuse after his nine children were found living in squalid, bug-infested conditions in eastern Oklahoma.
The children — whom investigators say were unable to count to 20 or recite the alphabet — were aged 3 to 17 years when the state Department of Human Services raided their property and took them into emergency custody in October 2011.
A petition to terminate the man's parental rights says one of his daughters told authorities he impregnated her and buried the baby's body near a goat pen. Investigators have searched the rural property but have been unable to find the remains. One daughter said he had sexually abused her and a younger sibling.
The Southwest Times Record reported (http://is.gd/WfWHhh ) that LeFlore County District Judge Jon Sullivan granted defense attorney Gary Buckles' motion for mistrial, saying too many potential jurors had already formed opinions on the case.
A petition to terminate the parental rights of the man and the children's 40-year-old mother filed in November last year alleged "shocking and heinous abuse and neglect."
The children and their nine parents were found living in a small camper "because their home was too filthy and filled with bugs," according a court decision terminating the man's parental rights.
The Associated Press is not identifying the man in an effort to protect the identities of the children.
Assistant District Attorney Meg Nicholson said the father's trial may be reset on the December docket, or it is possible the defense may renew a request for a change of venue.