TUCSON, Ariz. – The trial of two Arizona parents accused of imprisoning and abusing their three young daughters could come to a close Wednesday after attorneys deliver closing arguments.
The nearly three-week trial in Tucson has been marked by dramatic testimony from the girls, who said they had to follow bizarre rules and were beaten if they disobeyed.
They said they were confined to their rooms and rarely allowed bathroom breaks, forcing them to use their closets instead.
The girls were 12, 13 and 17 when the two youngest sisters escaped in November 2013 after an encounter with their stepdad. The oldest was kept in a separate bedroom and was removed from the home by police that night.
The Associated Press does not generally name minors who authorities say are victims of crimes.
Fernando and Sophia Richter each face three counts of kidnapping and child abuse. Fernando Richter also faces two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Sophia Richter took the witness stand on Tuesday, denying the accusations against her.
She said the girls ate well, with diets that included lots of fruit, and they were allowed to leave their rooms. She said she never physically abused the girls.
Her husband Fernando Richter did not testify.
"They had fruit daily, they had snacks daily. They were never without. I always had fruit for them," Sophia Richter said.
The girls testified that they were forced to wake up at 2 a.m. to do marching-like exercises for hours. One said she wasn't allowed to get off her bed or brush her teeth for lengthy stretches.
The oldest sister described plastic water jugs the girls were given as moldy and the meals they were fed twice a day as rancid.
"It was nasty. Gagging nasty," she testified. "We would have to lick our plates if we wanted them clean, and if not my mom would just throw more food on it if I didn't lick it."
Her mother denied those allegations during her limited testimony. She wasn't allowed to say anything that would incriminate her husband.
Police say the abuse began in a house in Catalina in nearby Pinal County, where the Richters face separate criminal charges. They pleaded not guilty in both cases.