California couple accused of torturing malnourished children to stand trial

Louise Turpin, left, and David Turpin, right, sit in court for a preliminary hearing on June 20, 2018.

The California husband and wife accused of abusing and chaining most of their 13 children will stand trial.

After hours of testimony Wednesday from several law enforcement witnesses, Riverside Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz determined Thursday there is enough evidence for David and Louise Turpin to face almost all of the charges brought by prosecutors.

The judge dropped one child endangerment charge for the couple’s 2-year-old daughter.

The Turpins, from Perris, California, will be arraigned August 3. David Turpin, 56, and Louise Turpin, 49, have pleaded not guilty. The Turpins’ attorneys refused to comment on Thursday.

They each face 12 counts of torture, 12 counts of false imprisonment, eight counts of child abuse and seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult.

David Turpin also faces one count of a lewd act on a child and eight counts of perjury. Louise Turpin faces one count of assault.

Prosecutors say the couple beat and tortured 12 of their 13 children, kept them chained to their beds and starved them — all while the family dogs were kept clean and well-fed.

They were arrested on January 14 after their 17-year-old daughter escaped from a window and called 911 on a deactivated cell phone. The Turpins have six minor and seven adult children, ranging in age from 2 years old to 29.

“What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent, and that’s a very important presumption,” David Macher, a public defender for David Turpin, told reporters in January.

Investigators also testified that one child said the house the family lived in smelled so badly she could barely breathe, and she thought she and her 12 siblings might need to go to the doctor.

A doctor who treated the family said the 11-year-old girl was in the worst condition when he examined her, testified Patrick Morris, supervising investigator for the Riverside County district attorney’s office.

She had a body weight percentile of .01 and her mid-arm circumference was equal to that of a 4.5-month-old baby, Morris testified. The doctor said she had psychosocial dwarfism, stunted growth due to living in an environment that is abusive or neglected.