Man, wife waive arraignment in child cruelty case

Date: 2007-12-12

By Jason A. Smith

jsmith@henryherald.com

Attorneys for a McDonough couple suspected of committing acts of cruelty against their two adopted children say their clients are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to prove their innocence in court.

Arraignment was waived Tuesday in Henry County Superior Court for Earl Thomas Dinkler, 42, and Deborah Williamson Dinkler, 41. The couple is facing charges on two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree.

McDonough Police arrested the Dinklers in August, saying the couple had caused "excessive" and "malicious" pain to the children, ages 13 and 11. Over a four-year period, according to police, the Dinklers allegedly forced the children to run laps in the back yard of their home and do other exercises. Failure to perform the laps or exercises would result in food deprivation or beatings.

Earl Dinkler's attorney, Ricky Morris, said Tuesday that he is anticipating a jury trial in the case, and is confident his client "will be exonerated."

"We expect that the evidence will not be there to show that he has done anything wrong," Morris said

Following Deborah Dinkler's arrest, her attorney, Scott Key, said any discipline his client used with the children was "completely appropriate" and that she never mistreated them. "The level of discipline was ... well thought-out," he said in August. "It was a loving mother disciplining her children."

Police began investigating the Dinklers after a phone call from the Dinklers' neighbor, 43-year-old Donna Chapman. According to Chapman, the Dinklers' daughter showed up at her door dirty, hot and sweating Aug. 4, after hiding under her house for more than two hours to avoid punishment for not doing exercises.

Both Earl and Deborah Dinkler remained free Tuesday on $100,000 bonds. The Dinklers will likely be placed on the January trial calendar, Henry District Attorney Tommy Floyd said Tuesday

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