VANCOUVER -- The mother accused along with her husband of starving and beating their adopted twins took the stand Thursday morning and claimed the children needed to be broken of a hoarding habit.
Jeffrey and Sandra Weller are on trial, accused of imprisoning the adopted teen siblings of Filipino descent, beating them and under-feeding them. The charges include assault, strangulation and unlawful imprisonment.
Closing arguments were set for Thursday afternoon.
"We had tried to get them in therapy to help with their hoarding issues," Sandra testified in Clark County Superior Court. She said they hoarded junk food and hid it in their dresser.
She also testified that the twins "ate all of the time," including cereal and eggs.
The twins have both been in therapy for a decade, she said. The daughter once tried to strangle her brother, she said.
She home-schooled her children and the twins were always included in family activities with their four biological children, Sandra said.
She acknowledged that the kitchen cabinets with food were locked and said that was to prevent the twins from pilfering junk food. Their bedroom doors were locked to keep them from climbing on the roof of the home, she said.
Earlier in the trial, the twins, the Weller's biological children, child abuse counselors and a doctor all painted a picture of children beaten, denied food and offered foul dishes. Beating had left scars. The biological children would try to sneak food to the twins.
The twins were also described as well-below weight percentiles for their age, height and weight, while everyone else in the Weller household looked well-fed and robust.
The twins were 16 when the Wellers were arrested in 2011. All six of the Wellers' children were taken from their home during the investigation and placed in child protective custody.
Jeffery Weller was also accused of making death threats to his adopted daughter while choking her, saying, “Someone is going to kill you and it’s going to be soon,” the child abuse specialist, Dr. Kimberly Copeland, noted.