Trial underway of parents accused of starving adopted children

Trial underway of parents accused of starving adopted children

LONGVIEW, Wash. -- The trial began Monday for the Longview parents who recently made national headlines after they were accused of starving their five adopted children.

The boy who was in the worst shape described his life with Rebecca and Jeff Trebilcock. He said he was made to drink his own urine and that he and his four adopted sisters were denied food while his mother is overweight and his father was obese.

The defense said a stomach flu and other medical and psychological conditions were the reasons for the kids' malnourishment.

The boy who was made to drink his own urine is now 14 years old. He said his adopted parents forced him to perform chores in the cold with no jacket or shoes. He was often forced to eat outside from a bucket the Trebilcocks called "the trough." The boy said the Trebilcocks would make him stand on the porch in the cold and they or the couple's biological children would douse him with water.

James Smith, a deputy prosecutor, showed a picture of the boy and his biological sister at the age they were when adopted -- both healthy and even a little plump. Then Smith showed a picture of the boy in his hospital bed. He was extremely thin after years of living with the Trebilcocks. When he was rushed to the hospital last year, he weighed as much as a six-year-old -- just 49 pounds.

The Trebilcock's lawyers accused Child Protective Service officials of feeding the boy a high-fat diet -- to "fatten him up" -- instead of the vegetarian diet he had been on.

"Not to refer to the children to bovine by any means, but it's a simple affect of what happened when they provided the children that type of diet after coming off a healthy diet for a number of years," said Kevin Blondin, Jeff Trebilcock's lawyer.

The defense said the boy lost so much weight because of a flu bug that ran through the family and that Fetal Alcohol Syndrome was also to blame. They also said the boy has a problem telling the truth and said the Trebilcocks had to stop him from eating pet food instead of regular food. The boy, however, told the judge he ate dog food and goat food because he was so hungry. Prosecutors, however, said the proof of what happened in their home is in how the boy and his sisters have all put on weight. The boy has gained more than 60 pounds and grown seven inches since being out of the Trebilcock home where a gate with bells was put on his door so he couldn't leave his room. He also told the judge the Trebilcocks installed another warning system in case he or his sisters tried to get more food.
The Trebilcocks are putting their fate in the hands of the judge, who allowed media to record the boy's audio during the trial but wouldn't allow his face to be shown by media. The Trebilcock's lawyers made the rare move of not having a jury trial because they think it's the only way they can get a fair trial due to media coverage. Lawyers sometimes use that tactic when they have a weak case and don't think there's a jury that would have a kind view of their clients.