Father testifies that malnourished boy could eat all he wanted

Date: 2012-07-25

Jeffery Trebilcock took the stand in his own defense Wednesday afternoon, contradicting much of the testimony Judge Michael Evans heard from Trebilcock's adopted son.

Trebilcock and his wife, Rebecca, both 45, are charged with criminal mistreatment of their five adopted children. They were arrested in March 2011 after their adopted son, then 13, was hospitalized with malnutrition, hypothermia and extreme eczema that doctors said was brought on by prolonged neglect.

Rebecca Trebilcock will testify Thursday morning.

Under questioning from defense attorney Kevin Blondin, Trebilcock said he and his wife never abused their children.

Although the boy, who testified July 16, claimed his parents hardly fed him and he was forced to eat dog and goat food, Trebilcock said the boy ate more at dinner than anyone else in the family. Nevertheless, the boy would sneak into the cupboard and eat dog and goat food, Trebilcock said.

"I told him it's not for little boys," Trebilcock said. "He said he wanted to taste it. He liked the taste of it."

The boy claimed his parents fed him on the porch in a plastic potato salad container they called his "trough."

Trebilcock denied forcing the boy to eat on the porch. He said the boy ate out of an extra-large bowl because "that's what he wanted," and it was his choice to name it "the trough."

"Did he get more food if he wanted it?" Blondin asked.

"Yes," Trebilcock said. "We never told him no."

He said the boy often vomited after meals. (Dr. Steven Gabaeff, who testified Tuesday, said he believed the boy had bulemia.)

He denied the boy's claim that the refrigerator and the pantry were locked. He said only a cabinet with prescription medication and dietary food for his wife was kept locked.

He acknowledged there were motion sensors in the house, saying he and his wife decided they were necessary because their son had been wandering into their bedroom and a sister's bedroom at night.

The boy claimed he was rarely allowed to wear shoes on the farm. Trebilcock denied this, saying he bought the boy a good pair of boots.

The boy claimed he was not allowed to use the bathroom at night, so he urinated in a cup and his parents forced him to drink it. Trebilcock said the boy was able to leave his room to use the bathroom nearby. He said there was a baby gate with a bell propped against the door of his son's bedroom so they could hear if the boy left his room, but that was not to prevent him from using the bathroom, he said.

The cup in his son's room, Trebilcock said, was "a special cup we gave him for being adopted" but he never drank from it. He said he was shocked that his son would claim he was forced to drink urine.

Blondin asked if anyone ever saw the boy do this.

"No," Trebilcock said.

Trebilcock said he and his wife were worried that the boy was not growing taller, but he said he never noticed how extremely thin the child was. Doctors said he weighed 49 pounds when he was hospitalized in March 2011.

Under cross-examination by deputy prosecutor James Smith, Trebilcock said he didn't realize the boy's weight loss because he never saw him undressed.

"You can see his bones, his rib cage," Smith said, showing him a photo taken in the hospital in March 2011. "His feet are blue. This isn't what he typically looked like?"

"I've never seen him without his clothes," Trebilcock said.

Trebilcock said he and his wife took the boy to Dr. Blaine Tolby in 2008 because they were worried about his lack of growth.

He said other than having him examined at Legacy Emanuel Hospital that year, neither he nor his wife took the boy to the doctor again until 2011.

Trebilcock was calm during most of the questioning, but he broke down in tears when he described driving his four adopted daughters to the Hall of Justice on March 10, 2011, to turn them over to Child Protective Services.

"I didn't really tell them anything," he said. "I didn't want to scare them."

When they reached the courthouse, "I told them they were going to go with this lady ... and that was it."


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