California parents of 13 plead guilty to torture, abuse

RIVERSIDE, California (AP) – As prosecutors brought charges of cruelty and torture against a California couple who had shackled and starved their children for years, they had two goals in mind: Punish the perpetrators and ensure they could never victimise those 13 children in any way again.

On Friday, they appeared to prevail on both counts as David and Louise Turpin pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges in a deal prosecutors said will likely keep them in prison for the rest of their lives.

At the same time, it will keep their children from the trauma of having to testify at a criminal trial that until Friday’s guilty pleas was scheduled to begin in September.

“Part of our job is to seek and get justice. But it’s also to protect the victims from further harm,” Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said after the couple entered their pleas.

Louise Turpin’s face reddened, and she wept during the hearing as her husband remained stoic.

The couple, scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison on April 13, won’t be eligible for parole for at least 25 years, meaning David Turpin, 57, and his 50-year-old wife are likely to die there. “The defendants ruined lives, so I think it’s just and fair that the sentence be equivalent to first-degree murder,” Hestrin said.

David Turpin (2nd R) and wife Louise (L) listen to their charges as they are joined by their attorneys, Allison Lowe (2nd L) and David Macher during a courtroom hearing in Riverside, California on Friday. – AP