Oldest son takes stand in Trebilcock trial
Oldest son takes stand in Trebilcock trial
JULY 18, 2012 11:00 PM • BY TONY LYSTRA / THE DAILY NEWS
Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock's oldest biological son testified Wednesday that he spoke with his father about his underweight adopted brother in 2010, but his father told him it wasn't his place to worry about it.
Shane Michael Trebilcock, 25, acknowledged the discussion during a long exchange with a deputy prosecutor on the third day of his parents' child abuse and neglect trial. But, after being called to the witness stand as a prosecution witness, Shane Trebilcock tried to defend his parents. He also tried to distance himself from statements he reportedly made to a sheriff's investigator last year suggesting his parents had mistreated his adopted little brother.
Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock, both 45, are accused of starving and abusing their five adopted children, including three girls from Haiti. One of the children, a 14-year-old boy, was admitted to a Portland hospital last year, cold and emaciated.
Deputy Prosecutor James Smith noted Wednesday that Shane Trebilcock told a detective last year that he was worried about the boy, then 13. Smith said Shane Trebilcock also said it was obvious the boy had not been eating properly and that he wanted the boy to come live with him so that he would be safe. He also said his parents treated the adopted girls better than the boy.
In court Wednesday, however, Shane Trebilcock backed away from those statements. He said sheriff's investigators lied to him about his parents' treatment of the adopted children. He also said he spoke out in anger during his interview with the detective because he was frustrated that he learned about boy's hospitalization from a family friend, not his parents.
"She had me pretty stressed," Shane Trebilcock said of the detective.
"So, you're saying you told things to the detective that are untrue?" Smith asked.
"That's what I'm saying," Shane Trebilcock said, adding that he's never in trouble and not used to dealing with law enforcement. "I was under a great deal of stress. ... When I'm speaking with officers, they stress me out."
"It sounds like your perspective on some of these things has changed over time, Mr. Trebilcock," Smith said.
Smith also said Shane Trebilcock told the detective that his mother, Rebecca Trebilcock, had said she wanted the adopted girls "to be thin." Smith also reminded Shane Trebilcock that he told investigators his parents were scheduled to adopt yet another child from Africa and that he didn't want the girls or the adopted boy to be returned to his parents after authorities seized them and placed in foster care in March 2011.
Shane Trebilcock acknowledged that he may have told authorities that his mother wanted thin girls. However, he said he didn't recall making the other statements. He also said his parents fed all of the children well and punished them fairly, usually with the occasional spanking and "time out."
Some of the adopted children, who joined the Trebilcock home between 2002 and 2008, described during testimony this week a horrific routine of humiliation and abuse. As of Wednesday, all of the adopted children had testified.
Three of the girls adopted from Haiti have been quiet and demur, often answering lawyers' questions with one word or leaving long silences lingering over the courtroom as they failed to answer the questions at all. One girl said Wednesday she'd eaten toothpaste because she was hungry. Another said she'd resorted to eating dandelions and said the Trebilcocks had placed tape over her mouth as a punishment.
The boy said the Trebilcocks made him wear a diaper and wash his clothes and sheets in a bucket outside if he wet his pants. He said he often wasn't allowed to wear shoes on the couple's Bunker Hill area property west of Longview, no matter the weather, and was forced to drink his own urine.
Emily Haukaas, a tutor who visited the Trebilcock home regularly for at least six years to help with the children's home-schooling, read Wednesday from a written exercise she had done with the boy one day when he was feeling sad and frustrated.
"What can you asked Jesus for?" she had written on the paper.
"Help not to aggravate my family," the boy wrote.