The alleged torture included being forced keep their arms raised above their heads for hours

By Harriet Sokmensuer
March 08, 2017 03:02 PM
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A married Tennessee couple allegedly tortured and starved the man’s teenage sons for five months in 2013, PEOPLE confirms.

The teens were 14 and 16 at the time of the alleged abuse, which took place in their trailer home, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

Jessica Cox, the boys’ stepmother, is currently on trial in a Knox County courtroom on multiple charges including aggravated child abuse, a court official tells PEOPLE.

The boys’ father, Michael McIntosh, a former police officer, already pleaded guilty to 15 counts of aggravated child abuse. As part of his plea deal, he will testify against Cox, the official says.

During the testimony of the older son, now 20, prosecutors showed photos of his body taken after he and his brother allegedly escaped the home, the official confirms. Prosecutors also showed permanent scars allegedly left by the abuse, according to the official.

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In May 2013, the brothers allegedly escaped the trailer after both parents fell asleep, the court heard. Prosecutors allege they’d been handcuffed together and were swollen from a recent beating, but they walked in the early morning hours to the elder brother’s high school, where a janitor called 911, according to the News Sentinel.

Hours before, the brothers were allegedly handcuffed to the kitchen cabinets with their hands behind their backs, the outlet reports. They had allegedly been beaten for hours by Cox with a rolling pin.

Credit: Knox County Sheriff Office

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According to the News Sentinel, the court heard how, over the course of five months, the boys allegedly endured violent and humiliating abuse — including being forced to take ice baths, being burned and being forced to keep their arms raised above their heads for hours.

They also testified they considered Cox their “mother figure,” the outlet reports.

“The only thing I wanted my entire childhood would not to be in that situation I was in,” the elder brother testified, according to the News Sentinel.

The brothers are living with their grandparents now, the News Sentinel reports, though it was not clear whether they are their maternal or paternal grandparents. McIntosh is incarcerated, though it was not immediately clear where he is being held. Cox is behind bars in Knox County Jail.

Cox waved her right to enter a plea, according to the court official.

Both Cox and McIntosh’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.