Trebilcocks sentenced to prison for mistreating children

Date: 2012-08-23

Trebilcocks sentenced to prison for mistreating children

August 23, 2012 11:51 pm • By Leslie Slape / The Daily News

Jeffery and Rebecca Trebilcock will serve different prison sentences for starving two of their five adopted children, a judge ruled Thursday, using one of the defendants’ own words against her.

Rebecca Trebilcock, 45, was sentenced to 8½ years, three years more than her 46-year-old husband, because she “was the parent with the children the vast majority of the day,” Cowlitz Superior Court Judge Michael Evans said. “She had the greater opportunity to see (her son) writhe in pain from five broken ribs ... and see peach fuzz growing on the face and chest of a 13-year-old boy trying to warm himself.”

He quoted from Rebecca Trebilcocks’ testimony on the last day of the two-week bench trial.

“Mrs. Trebilcock mentioned, ‘Where much is given, much is required,’ ” he said. “I completely agree. Much was given. Five beautiful, precious children were given to a family. Displaced, without a home, they wanted to be loved and gently cared for. ... That great gift was recklessly squandered.”

Evans pronounced sentence after hearing heartfelt pleas for leniency from the Trebilcocks and their friends and family. Frequently breaking down in tears, the couple told the judge they love and miss their children.

“They were the sunshine of my life,” Rebecca Trebilcock said. “When they were taken from us, the sun went out.”

Jeff Trebilcock begged not to be separated from his wife of 26 years, or from their four biological sons, ages 17 to 26.

“I’m asking for leniency,” he said. “To take myself and my wife away from our family would not be just.”

A dozen people who spoke on behalf of the Trebilcocks at Thursday’s sentencing hearing said they believe they are innocent.

“I’ve heard a lot of things in this courtroom, and I don’t believe any of them,” said Jim Rhodes, a former co-worker of Jeff Trebilcock at the Longview School District. “It was their word against a troubled 13-year-old’s word. They didn’t starve him and they didn’t starve any of those other kids.”

The Trebilcocks’ adopted son attended the hearing but did not speak. The courtroom was packed with onlookers to witness the resolution of one of the county’s most watched criminal cases in recent years.

The Longview couple had been charged with five counts of criminal mistreatment. Doctors said the boy weighed only 49 pounds when he was hospitalized with severe hypothermia, eczema and malnutrition March 1, 2011.

The girls also were underweight, but not as severely as the boy, doctors said during the trial. All five children gained weight and height after being placed in foster care.

Evans on July 31 found the couple guilty of first-degree criminal mistreatment, a felony, against their adopted son and third-degree criminal mistreatment against the boy’s biological sister.

Evans found the Trebilcocks not guilty of criminal mistreatment against the other girls, biological sisters from Haiti.

Despite the not-guilty findings, Evans said Thursday, “I believe the girls did suffer at the hands of their parents. I didn’t find evidence sufficient beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Evans also sentenced the Trebilcocks to two years’ probation, signed an order prohibiting them to contact the victims for 10 years, and denied a motion to let them be out on bail while they appeal the verdicts.

He set a restitution hearing for 1 p.m. Oct. 12.

“There needs to be some soul-searching about what happened to those sweet children and about what we as a society need to do to protect our little ones,” Evans said.

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