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Appeals court tosses out Sophia Richter conviction

Posted at 1:40 PM, Sep 01, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-01 20:59:48-04

The Arizona Court of Appeals has tossed out the conviction of Sophia Richter, who was found guilty of imprisoning and abusing her three daughters.

Police were shocked by what they found inside the Richter home in November 2013.

Three teenaged girls, confined to a room with no view of the world outside. Dirty, forced to eat rancid food, forced to stand in front of surveillance cameras and beg permission to go to the bathroom.

If permission never came, they'd just go in a closet.

The girls were held in such secrecy neighbors did not even know they were there until two of them escaped and ran to a neighbor for help.

A jury found Stepfather Fernando Richter and mother Sophia guilty of child abuse in 2016.

Judge Paul Tang sent Fernando Richter to his own imprisonment of 58 years. Sophia Richter got a 20-year sentence.

But now Sophia Richter will get a new trial. 

During the trial, her attorney kept a running objection to Judge Tang's ruling that Sophia Richter could not claim she acted under duress. That she was so afraid of her husband Fernando, she simply followed his orders.

The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled she should have been able to claim that defense.  Now she'll have that chance.  The Appeals Court threw out her conviction and cleared the way for a new trial.