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Hearing set for California parents accused of shackling children

LOS ANGELES – Prosecutors were expected to begin making their case Wednesday against a Southern California couple accused of starving and shackling of their children in a case that drew global headlines when the parents were arrested in the last winter.

David and Louise Turpin are scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing in the Superior Court in los angeles, where a judge is weighing whether authorities have amassed enough evidence for a trial.

The couple has pleaded not guilty to torture, abuse of children and other charges. They were arrested after their 17-year-old daughter, jumped out of a window to escape the family Perris, California, home in January and phoned 911.

They are held on $12 million bail each.

Authorities said their house reeked of human waste and the evidence of famine was clear, with the oldest of 13 brothers and sisters with a weight of only 82 pounds. The children were enthralled as punishment, denied food and toys and get the chance to do little except write in journals, prosecutors have said.

She said that the children were isolated from each other and locked up in different rooms in small groups; they had no access to televisions or radios but are in the hundreds of journals that investigators seized from the house.

Most of the Turpin children were homeschooled, but one of the older boys were allowed to attend the classes at a local school. His mother would leave him there out in the hallway during the lesson and bring him back home as soon as the class ended, prosecutors said.

After they were freed from the house, the children, who ranged in age from 2 to 29, were immediately admitted to the hospital and eventually released.

The current whereabouts of the children is unknown. A spokeswoman for the province’s social services refused to discuss the case.

Jack Osborn, a lawyer is appointed to represent the couple’s seven adult children, said earlier this year that she is “doing well.” They participated in music therapy programs, made crafts and the world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma held a special concert for them. They communicated with their younger brothers and sisters via Skype.

“They are happy, they want to move forward, they don’t want to dwell on the past and . they want their identity to be now and in the future, the things they hope to do, the dreams that they have. They don’t want people to think that they are only as victims, but as young adults on their life,” he told the River-Enterprise newspaper in February.

Osborn has not responded to an e-mail from The Associated Press this week.

Prosecutors are expected to call the police witnesses at the Wednesday hearing, but the children are expected to take the stand.

David Turpin’s attorney, David Macher, said he was “looking for the hearing,” but refused to comment further. Louise Turpin’s lawyer did not immediately respond to request for comment.

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Taxin reported from Santa Ana.

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