A defense motion to have perjury counts dismissed against a Perris man accused with his wife of imprisoning and starving 12 of their 13 children was denied Friday, and a June preliminary hearing for the couple was confirmed.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz considered a motion from Deputy Public Defender David Macher seeking to strike eight perjury counts filed earlier this month against 56-year-old David Allen Turpin because, according to the attorney, they were not relevant to current proceedings tied to the abuse allegations.
However, after hearing arguments from both the defense and prosecution, Schwartz decided the additional charges were applicable and should remain part of the amended complaint.
Turpin was arraigned on the new charges and pleaded not guilty. His wife, 49-year-old Louise Ann Turpin, was also arraigned on an allegation of assault resulting in great bodily injury that was added to the original complaint filed against the couple in January, but which she had never answered. She pleaded not guilty.
Both the prosecution and defense also confirmed that they are on track to proceed with a preliminary hearing set for June 20. Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham noted that the hearing, which will determine whether there’s sufficient evidence for a trial, may run an extra day.
The Turpins 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, as well as the eight perjury allegations, which prosecutors said stemmed from his filing papers with the California Department of Education over a seven-year period stating that his children were being home-schooled when, in fact, there was no curriculum.
Each defendant is being held in lieu of $12 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside, 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.
Riverside County District Attorney 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 they 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 Riverside County 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 crimes against 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.