KGUN 9News


Richters will still stand trial in Pinal County

Posted at 5:27 PM, Dec 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-07 19:27:53-05
PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - They were just found guilty of child abuse in Pima County, but Fernando and Sophia Richter still have to worry about another trial on Pinal County on similar charges of imprisoning Sophia Richter's three daughters in abusive conditions.
Two of the girls escaped from a home in Tucson.  They told police Fernando and Sophia Richter kept them captive in the house, beat them and forced them to eat rancid food.
The family lived in Tucson for about four months, but lived at a home in Pinal County for about a year and a half.
Parts of the Pima County trial reduced Sophia Richter to tears.
Her own daughters testified they were beaten, forced to eat rancid food and sometimes relieved themselves in their closets when their parents would not give them permission to use the bathroom.
But a jury found Sophia and Fernando Richter guilty of abuse physical and mental abuse and isolation so severe the oldest girls was losing her ability to talk.
The Pima County case was based on three months in a house in Tucson.
Now Pinal County Attorney Lando Voyles says even though the Richters were found guilty in Pima County, he'll take the Richters to trial on charges of abuse at this home in Pinal County.
Voyles says even if the Pima County sentences put the Richters in prison for a long, long time it makes sense to prosecute them in Pinal County too.  There are different charges including a claim Fernando Richter sexually abused one of the girls who was just 15 at the time.
"Some of those if the defendants are convicted of require mandatory consecutive sentencing if they're convicted and sentenced on those counts," said Voyles.
Part of the prosecution will depend on the work of Sheriff Paul Babeu's detectives.
"It seems foreign to a lot of us to even think that parents could do this, commit crimes against their own children like this not just be one parent but in fact both parents," said Babeu.
Voyles says the Pinal prosecution is not double jeopardy because the offenses are in a different time and place and they claim different crimes including sexual abuse by Fernando Richter against one of the girls who was 15 at the time.
The Pinal County Attorney says he has added a special claim of dangerous crimes against children that will allow more time in prison. 
Often, if someone gets a ten year term, a judge may allow them to serve both at the same time for a total of ten years in prison.
Dangerous crimes against children requires terms to be stacked so two ten year terms means twenty years behind bars.