Vancouver couple convicted of beating, starving twins
VANCOUVER, Wash. -- After deliberating seven hours, a Clark County jury convicted a Vancouver couple of starving and beating their adopted twins.
Jeffrey Weller was found guilty of 14 of the 16 second-, third- and fourth-degree assault charges and unlawful imprisonment charges. Sandra Weller was found guilty of nine of the 10 second- and third-degree assault and unlawful imprisonment charges.
After hearing the verdict, Jeffrey Weller slowly shook his head and looked down. Both Wellers showed no dramatic reaction upon hearing the verdict. But when they were escorted from the courtroom by custody officers, Jeffrey Weller told reporters: "I did not do it and we will appeal this."
"We were framed," Sandra Weller said, adding that it was the couple's exes who implicated them.
After hearing the verdict, Tina Toth, Jeffrey Weller's ex-wife and mother of several of his children in the home, said she felt justice was served.
"He did this to himself," Toth said. "I hope he realizes what he's done and how much he's hurt his kids and the other kids in the home."
After receiving the case at the end of the day Thursday, the jury spent all of Friday deciding on more than a dozen charges. They rendered their verdicts just after 4 p.m.
Sentencing was set for March 12 in Clark County Superior Court.
Jurors heard during the four-day trial that the Wellers starved their teenage twins, only feeding them a porridge substance once a day. If the twins snuck food, they were beaten with a wooden board, prosecutors said.
Authorities recovered the board - which had a reddish brown substance on it consistent with blood spatter - and it was a key piece of evidence during the trial.
The defense maintained the Wellers did not mistreat their children. Attorneys said the twins had mental issues that caused them to hoard food and that they constantly had to be disciplined.
On the stand, Jeffrey Weller admitted to hitting one of the twins once, but said it was out of discipline.
The case surfaced in October 2011 when one of the twins snuck a note to a counselor that detailed the abuse.