An Arizona couple, Fernando and Sophia Richter, who imprisoned their three daughters, were convicted on three counts each for kidnapping and child abuse on Friday. Fernando was also convicted on two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The jury is now currently deliberating on the length of sentences that the Arizona couple will receive.
At the time of their imprisonment, the three girls were 12, 13 and 17-years-old. As all three girls are minors, their names have not been released. During the trial, the girls spoke about the horrors that they suffered while they were held prisoner for months at a time. The girls also expressed that they had been removed from their schools, physically abused, and forced to excrete their own bodily fluids in their closets. The 12 and 13-year-old girls managed to escape through a window and alerted police. The 17-year-old was rescued by police when she was found in a room where she was kept separated from her two younger sisters.
Some of the other torture that was described by the imprisoned girls were being forced awake in the middle of the night, fed rotten food, forced to eat more than they could handle, and being forced to march in place to the point of physical exhaustion. If the girls did not comply to the different forms of torture imposed on them by the Arizona couple, the girls would have faced worse punishment.
The youngest and the oldest girl had specific forms of punishment that they were subjected to in addition to the other ones listed earlier. The 12-year-old girl told the court that Fernando would force her to read words from a dictionary. The girl was subjected to being beaten if she made any mistake during the process. The oldest girl said that she was forced to be exposed to loud music, forced to stay in her bed, and had not seen her other two sisters for months until police came to rescue her. The oldest also commented about the food that the girls were forced to eat.
“It was nasty. Gagging nasty. We would have to lick our plates if we wanted them clean and if not my mom would just throw more food on it if I didn’t lick it.”
Police state that the abuse by the Arizona couple began in Catalina, Arizona in nearby Pinal County. Four months before the three girls escaped, the Richters moved to Tuscon, Arizona. The couple still has charges pending against them in Pinal County. Police officers who testified in court stated that when they entered the house the smell was so bad that they had to open all the windows in order to ventilate the home before they could start their investigation.
The Arizona couple entered a non-guilty plea and their defense attorney claimed that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to prove that the Richters were guilty on any of the charges against them. The Richter’s attorney also stated that the girls had no restrictions on them and were free to move about the house in any way they wished.
Sophia Richter testified on her own behalf and told the court that her daughters were never forced to stay inside their rooms. She also denied the claims that her daughters were fed rotten food and stated that food was never used against them in any negative way. Sophia said, “They had fruit daily, they had snacks daily. They were never without. I always had fruit for them.”
What do you think the Arizona couple should get for their sentences?
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