Date: 1987-04-08

Richmond Times-Dispatch

A circuit judge refused yesterday to dismiss a murder charge and other indictments filed against a 41-year-old man accused of beating to death his adopted son in October.

Michael Diehl and his wife, Karen, 37, who both remain free on combined bonds of $155,000, face murder, abduction, felony child neglect and malicious assault charges.

The request to dismiss the charges was one of five motions presented to Judge Alan Rosenblatt by Paul Sutton II, Diehl's attorney. Rosenblatt rejected all five.

Rosenblatt also turned down Sutton's request to dismiss a malicious wounding charge and his request that Michael Diehl be arraigned before the trial starts. The judge also rejected motions that separate trials be held for Diehl on each of the charges and that prosecutors be required to explain their theory on how the slaying occurred.

The Diehls are charged in the death of 13-year-old Dominick Diehl, called Andrew.

The boy was one of 17 adopted and natural children who lived with the couple inside a converted school bus at a Virginia Beach campground. The Diehls' 16 other children have since been placed in foster homes.

Dominick Diehl died of head injuries.

Evidence introduced during pretrial hearings indicated that the boy was beaten with a wooden stick and handcuffed to the floor of the bus, sometimes day and night, for urinating on the family's belongings and for other actions that Michael Diehl and his wife considered inappropriate.

Both Diehls made videotaped statements about the youth's treatment to police. In earlier hearings, a judge ruled that Karen Diehl's statement and a portion of Michael Diehl's statement can be used in trial.

The couple will be tried separately. Karen Diehl's trial is scheduled May 4; Michael Diehl will be tried June 1.


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