New charges possible in alleged abuse of twins

Date: 2011-11-14
Source: columbian.com

By Laura McVicker

A complicated case involving twins who were reportedly imprisoned, starved and beaten continued to unfold Monday with new revelations in court.

Family law attorneys hinted of the possibility of additional charges against the twins’ adoptive parents, Jeffrey and Sandra Weller. Assistant Attorney General Cindy Gideon said in court that there was evidence the Wellers exhibited manipulation and control over the four children — all boys ranging in age from 4 to 14 — not currently named as victims by prosecutors.

Those children are now in foster care or placed with a family member.

However, an attorney for Sandra Weller said she has not heard anything about additional charges.

The Wellers are currently charged with second-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment of their 16-year-old twins for allegedly keeping them in a locked room for several years and only feeding them once a day. The twins would reportedly be beaten with a wooden board if they snuck food, prosecutors allege.

Clark County Superior Court Judge Scott Collier denied the Wellers visitation of their four other children (there’s already a no-contact order in place relating to the twins), and set a review hearing for Nov. 22. At that time, he expects to hear from the Children’s Justice Center on whether more charges are possible.

After the hearing, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dustin Richardson said he could not yet say whether more charges would be filed, but confirmed there’s an active investigation against the Wellers relating to the other children.

Also in court, attorneys raised concerns about one of the twins’ stability. Attorneys and social workers said the twin, a 16-year-old boy, who is in a foster home in Woodland, may be involved in gang activity. They said he was just suspended from high school for tagging on school grounds and marking himself with gang signs.

Outside the courtroom, the twin — skinny, not gaunt, and wearing a backwards hat and baggy pants — told a reporter, “I’m doing much better now.” His twin sister was not present for the hearing; she has been placed in a foster home in Stevenson.

The judge said he would decide in December whether to place the twins in the same foster home, per attorneys’ request.

Initially, the male twin said he wanted to be apart from his sister, but now has expressed a change of heart, said his attorney, Maggie Smith Evansen.

The judge said he expects to set a trial on all six children’s permanent custody sometime next spring. A hearing to schedule the trial was set for April. 19.

Trial for Jeffrey Weller, 42, in the criminal case is set for March 26.

Trial for Sandra Weller, 48, has not yet been set; she has a review hearing Nov. 29 to determine whether she’s mentally competent to proceed.

0

Pound Pup Legacy