Husband gets 21 years, wife gets 20 in Vancouver abuse case

Husband gets 21 years, wife gets 20 in Vancouver abuse case »Play Video
Sandra and Jeff Weller are escorted into a Clark County courtroom to for their sentencing hearing on Wednesday, March 20. (KATU photo)

VANCOUVER, Wash. – A Vancouver husband and wife convicted of starving and beating their adopted twins were sentenced to 21 and 20 years in prison, respectively.

Jeffrey Weller was sentenced to 21 years in prison. He was found guilty of 14 of the 16 second-, third- and fourth-degree assault charges and unlawful imprisonment charges.

Sandra Weller was sentenced to 20 years after she was found guilty of nine of the 10 second- and third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.

The prosecution asked the judge to sentence both Wellers to 20 years in prison, citing an "ongoing pattern of psychological or physical abuse."

Judge Barbara Johnson said the exceptional sentence was appropriate. He told the twins in court, "do not let these experiences destroy you."

Sandra Weller in February claimed the couple’s ex-partners framed them for the crimes.

Jurors heard during the four-day trial that the Wellers starved their teenage twins, only feeding them a porridge substance once a day. If the twins snuck food, they were beaten with a wooden board, prosecutors said.

Authorities recovered the board – which had a reddish brown substance on it consistent with blood spatter – and it was a key piece of evidence during the trial.

The twins, who were home-schooled, were adopted by Sandra Weller in California when they were two years old. The twins told police the abuse went on for as long as they could remember.

They were not allowed to leave their bedroom other than to do chores and occasionally eat. There was no clock or electricity in their bedroom. The window was locked as well, court documents said.

The case surfaced in 2011, when one of the twins snuck a note to a counselor detailing the abuse.