A motion seeking to have perjury charges dismissed against a Perris man accused with his wife of imprisoning and starving 12 of their 13 children will be argued during a hearing Friday in Riverside.
Earlier this month, prosecutors filed an amended complaint adding eight counts of perjury against 56-year-old David Allen Turpin. However, the defendant’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender David Macher, recently submitted a motion to Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz seeking to have the counts stricken based on relevance to the case.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office will argue for the charges to remain.
The eight counts stem from papers that Turpin signed and filed with the California Department of Education between 2010 and 2017. According to the D.A.’s office, he claimed that his children “were receiving a full-time education in a private day school” when, in fact, they were following no structured home-school curriculum.
Turpin and 49-year-old Louise Ann Turpin are each charged with 12 counts of torture and false imprisonment, as well as nine counts of child abuse and seven counts of cruelty to a dependent adult. David Turpin is additionally charged with one count of lewd acts on a child under 14 years old, and his wife is additionally charged with assault resulting in great bodily injury.
A preliminary hearing is tentatively set for June 20 and will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.
Each defendant is being held in lieu of $12 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside and facing 94 years to life in state prison if convicted.
Their children, whose ages range from 2 to 29, are in the care of county Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services staff. Most of them were hospitalized in January for treatment of malnourishment and other disorders, but they have since been released and placed in undisclosed residential facilities, according to county officials.
D.A. Mike Hestrin said in January that the siblings suffered “severe neglect” and the alleged prolonged harm left them physically and cognitively impaired.
Hestrin acknowledged that while the abuse was extreme, there’s no evidence the Turpins had an intent to kill. The county’s top prosecutor would say nothing about a motive, only alluding to an alleged pattern of behavior that pointed to the defendants’ gratification from manipulation.
Louise Turpin’s younger sister, Teresa Robinette, told media outlets that she believed the parents’ abusive behavior may have begun after the couple began drinking and experimenting with an unconventional lifestyle, including plans for sexual escapades involving other people.
The alleged mistreatment of the children at the family’s Muir Woods Road residence involved choking and beatings, according to Hestrin, who said the punishments worsened, particularly after the family moved to California. He said the children were initially bound with ropes, but when they figured out how to free themselves from those bindings, the couple switched to chains and padlocks.
The siblings were allowed to shower once a year, and if they washed their hands above the wrist, “they were chained up” as punishment, Hestrin said.
According to sheriff’s investigators, the family moved to Murrieta in 2010, then to Perris in 2014. They had previously resided in Fort Worth, Texas, and were reportedly preparing to relocate to Oklahoma, which may have prompted the defendants’ 17-year-old daughter to sneak out of the home and seek help.
The girl jumped through a window shortly before 6 a.m. on Jan. 14, carrying a deactivated mobile phone with which she was able to dial 911, according to sheriff’s Capt. Greg Fellows. She told dispatchers her brothers and sisters were in distress, and when deputies arrived, she presented them with photographs documenting conditions inside the residence, the captain said.
Fellows said three children were found chained to furniture.
The couple were not charged with torturing their 2-year-old, who appeared in good health.
The lewd acts charge against David Turpin stemmed from his alleged molestation of one of the girls.