RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) – A Southern California judge on Friday denied a request to separate perjury counts from the more serious accusations against a man who along with his wife face child abuse and torture charges involving their 13 children.
David and Louise Turpin face 12 counts each of torture and false imprisonment, nine counts of child abuse and seven counts of cruelty to a dependent adult. David Turpin also faces eight new perjury charges and a count of lewd acts on a child under 14, while Louise has been charged with assault resulting in great bodily injury.
Prosecutors say the Turpins routinely chained their children – who range in age from two to the late 20s – to their beds, starved them and abused them in other ways at their Perris, California, home. Some of the torture included an inverted sleep schedule and hogtying the children, according to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators say that for two years, one of the Turpins’ daughters plotted to escape from the home. The 17-year-old eventually managed her escape through a window this past January and called 911.
Authorities found the children severely malnourished with muscle waste. A 12-year-old child weighed as much as an average 7-year-old, and one 29-year-old victim weighed 89 pounds. Several of the children have nerve damage due to extreme and prolonged physical abuse.
At a press conference following the Turpins’ arrest, Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin said the children were only allowed to shower once a year, and when they were found to be washing their hands above their wrists they were accused of “playing in the water.”
The Turpins also fed the children very little while they ate well, and often left food like apple pies and other treats on counters for the children to see. Similarly, the children were not allowed to play with toys but authorities found a number of unopened toys in the home, according to prosecutors.
Punishments included frequent beatings and strangulation. None of the children had seen a doctor in four years; they had never seen a dentist, investigators said.
Authorities believe the neglect and abuse started when the Turpins lived in Fort Worth, Texas. They lived in Texas for 17 years and moved to California in 2010, eventually settling in the town of Perris, about 75 miles southeast of Los Angeles, in 2014.
David Turpin sought to separate the new perjury charges – related to documents prosecutors say he falsified to say he was homeschooling the children – claiming they had nothing to do with the other charges.
Riverside County Superior Judge Bernard Schwartz denied the request, finding the perjury charges related to “the entirety of the case” since a lack of education is a form of child abuse.
Outside the courthouse, David Turpin’s public defender David Macher said they sought to sever the perjury charges to reduce the possibility of prejudice against his client.
The Turpins also re-entered pleas of not guilty during Friday’s proceedings.
They’re due back in court Oct. 5. A trial date has not been set, but could begin by the end of the year.