What's Ahead in Court for the House of Horrors Parents Accused of Torturing Their Kids
David and Louise Turpin sit in jail at the Robert Presley Detention Center in California awaiting the next hearing in their notorious abuse case
David and Louise Turpin sit in their jail cells at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside, California, awaiting their next court hearing in a child abuse case that has made international headlines.
The couple, whose 13 kids were allegedly abused while most were held prisoner in their Perris, California, home, have pleaded not guilty to the dozens of charges they each face, including torture, abuse and false imprisonment.
Only the youngest Turpin child, a toddler, was somewhat spared from abuse and was not underfed, according to prosecutors. The others were found severely malnourished.
David, 56, is additionally accused of a lewd act against a child and Louise, 49, has been charged with felony assault.
Both parents are scheduled to return to court for a hearing on May 4, when the parties could possibly agree on a date for the preliminary hearing for the impending trial.
At the preliminary hearing, prosecutors say, is when they will be required to present enough evidence to substantiate the charges against the Turpins.
“It is a mini-trial of sorts, but no jury and the evidence only needs to be sufficient for a judge to decide to hold a defendant over for trial,” John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, tells PEOPLE.
David and Louise were arrested on Jan. 14 after their 17-year-old daughter climbed through a window in the family’s home and used a disconnected cell phone to call 911 to report her siblings’ alleged abuse and captivity, authorities have said.
Riverside prosecutor Mike Hestrin said in January that the teen girl showed “great courage” when she escaped her home — a plan she and her siblings had been plotting for two years. He said then he did not know why she chose that day to escape.
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“I think we will know more when we get this case ready for preliminary hearing,” Hestrin said. “It is a really tough case for everybody involved.”
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David and Louise were each initially charged with 12 counts of torture as well as seven counts of abuse of a dependent adult, six counts of child abuse or neglect and 12 counts of false imprisonment. David was additionally charged with one count of lewd act on a child under the age of 14 by force, fear or duress.
In February, three new child abuse charges against the couple and one felony assault charge against Louise were added, according to an amended criminal complaint.
They are each being held in lieu of a $12 million bond.
Hestrin has reportedly said that, should the case go to trial, some of the Turpin children will be called to testify against their parents.
“The allegations carry life in state prison,” Louise’s attorney, Jeff Moore, told PEOPLE in January. “In terms of possible sentences, this is about as serious as it gets.”
“What we would like the public to know is that our clients are presumed to be innocent,” an attorney for David has said, according to ABC News, “and that’s a very important presumption.”