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Closing arguments wrap up in Longview child mistreatment trial


LONGVIEW, Wash. -- Closing arguments have wrapped up in the bench trial of a Longview couple accused of starving their five adopted children and forcing them to eat dog food.

On the witness stand Thursday in Cowlitz County Superior Court, an emotional Rebecca Trebilcock admitted being tough on her children, but denied withholding food from them.

In March of 2011, Washington State Children Protective Services discovered the Trebilcocks' 13-year-old adopted son weighed only 49 pounds. He and his adopted siblings, all sisters, were taken into state custody. A two-month investigation followed, resulting in charges of felony criminal mistreatment.

On Thursday, Trebilcock blamed her son’s weight on digestive problems. She claimed he ate dog food on his own accord, and acknowledged setting a trap to prove it.

“It wasn’t a trap to catch him, it was to find out what was going on,” Trebilcock said. “He’s my son; I needed to find out what was going on… The dog food had been disappearing, and I needed to know if he was bypassing the human food and going for the dog food.”

Trebilcock also alleged a gate with bells in front of the boy’s door was merely a burglar alarm, and was not meant to block him from taking food.

The Daily News reported that her husband, Jeffrey Trebilcock, also testified Wednesday that the couple never abused their children, and stated that the boy was not underfed, but ate dog food simply because he liked how it tasted.

The Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office reported last year that after being placed in protective custody, the boy was taken to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland for treatment of several broken ribs, severe malnutrition and hypothermia. His four adopted sisters were also diagnosed with neglect by a pediatric doctor.

The judge is set to rule on the case next Tuesday.

-- KOIN Local 6 staff

2012 Jul 26