LONGVIEW, Wash. -- A Longview couple accused of neglecting and withholding food from their five adopted children was found guilty of felony criminal mistreatment in Cowlitz County Superior Court Tuesday afternoon.
Judge Michael Evans found the couple guilty on two of the 13 charges they faced, including a first-degree felony charge.
Both parents took the witness stand during the trial in their own defense.
The children's mother, Rebecca Trebilcock said the kids were all well-fed and well-cared for in her home. But prosecutors provided evidence they said disputed that, including growth charts showing that the children had lost weight.
The adopted children, one boy and four girls, also took the witness stand and said sometimes they would eat toothpaste and dog food, because they were so hungry. One of the girls testified that at times, the parents taped her mouth shut.
Father Jeffery Trebilcock denied forcing a 13-year-old boy to eat goat and dog food, making him stay outside on a porch or leaving him barefoot. Trebilcock said the boy could eat as much food as he wanted but he liked the taste of dog food.
Most of the case centered on the now-14-year-old-boy.
Judge Evans found the Trebilcocks did not feed or care for him properly. In fact, the boy nearly died as a result of malnourishment over several years, according to doctors who testified.
The boy weighed only 49 pounds in March, 2011, when the state took custody of him and four sisters. After the couple's arrest, the boy was treated at Doernbecher Children's Hospital for broken ribs, malnutrition and hypothermia.
The abused boy's brother, Deric Whittington, said he was pleased with the verdict.
“I have a lot of anger in me, from what I’ve seen my brother and sister go through, and the other children,” he said.
The children were adopted by the Trebilcocks between 2002 and 2008. They are now living in protective custody. The couple also has biological children. Prosecutors said those children did not appear to be mistreated.
Sentencing was set for August 23. The felony charge carries a sentence of 51 to 68 months.