COUPLE WILL BE TRIED JOINTLY IN ABUSE TRIAL

Date: 2005-06-07

Associated Press
The Miami Herald

A Citrus County couple accused of torturing and starving five of their seven adopted children will stand trial together this fall, a judge ruled Monday.

Circuit Judge Richard A. Howard agreed with a prosecution request to combine the cases against John and Linda Dollar for trial Oct. 31. The next status hearing is set for July 8.

FIVE COUNTS OF ABUSE

The Dollars face five counts of aggravated child abuse for alleged abuse, including severely depriving their children of food and torturing them with bondage, electric prods and pliers used to pry off some of the children's toenails.

Prosecutors released evidence on Friday indicating that DNA found on a pair of black pliers taken from the Dollars' home matched the DNA of at least one of the children.

The Dollars have pleaded not guilty. Defense attorney Charlie Vaughn agreed that the prosecution suggestion would bring about a swifter end.

``Same charges; same set of facts. We have asserted from the start this should happen,'' Vaughn said.

The defense is scheduled to begin taking video depositions with some of the children Thursday, but the sessions may be delayed at the request of the children's state-appointed guardians.

The guardians want ``to keep them away from any more harm,'' Vaughn said. ``The children are not aware of everything that has happened with their parents and the evidence.''

The children, who range in age from 12 to 17, have been placed in foster care under the supervision of the state Department of Children & Families.

KIDS IN FOSTER CARE

``Things are moving along, maybe not the way we'd like to see them, but maybe the kids will be better off,'' Vaughn said.

The Dollars were arrested in Utah in February and are being held without bail in the Citrus County Jail.

They face up to 30 years to life in prison if they are convicted.

The allegations surfaced Jan. 21 when the Dollars' 16-year-old son was taken to the hospital with a head wound and red marks on his neck.

He weighed less than 60 pounds.

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