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"I never told them they could not come out"

Posted at 5:38 PM, Dec 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-01 19:38:11-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Sophia Richter is accused of holding her own daughters prisoner and feeding them terrible food.  Today, she took the stand in her own defense.
 
"I didn't force any of my children to stay in their rooms. I never locked them in. I never told them to stay in there.  I never told them they could not come out."
 
But what Tucson Police found in this house left to Sophia and Fernando Richter charged with kidnapping and child abuse, 14 charges in all. 
 
Today the child imprisonment trial came close to an end. 
 
Sophia Richter took the stand in her own defense and said the girls were not prisoners at all.
 
Leo Plowman, Sophia Richter's Defense Attorney asked: "Did the doors lock from the inside or outside?"
 
Sophia: "From the inside."
 
Plowman: "Did the windows have any kinds of device, a bar on them or were they locked?
 
Sophia: "No".
 
But Tucson Police say the girls were prisoners in this house, and a previous house in Pinal County for a total of at least two years.  A psychiatrist testified the girls were psychological prisoners, locked in by their own fear.
 
Fernando Richter did not testify in his defense, but Sophia Richter has testified and only a court ruling has kept her from blaming even her own behavior on her husband Fernando.
 
Sophia Richter's daughters testified they were forced to stay in their rooms, forced to eat terrible food, and beaten.
 
Plowman: "Did you ever spank your girls?
 
Sophia: "No."
 
Plowman: "Did you ever hit them with wire or anything that could be used as an instrument."
 
Sophia: "No, I did not."
 
The girls testified their only food was a miserable mix of pasta and scraps, often many days old. 
 
Sophia Richter said never made that, but she served it, through it wasn't the only thing the girls ate.
 
Sophia: "They had fruit daily."
 
Plowman: "Daily?"
 
Sophia: "Daily. They had fruit daily, they had snacks daily....They were never without."
 
The girls described what the family called mumbling, being forced get up as early as 2 a.m. to stand and shuffle in place for hours on end.
 
"Mumbling was something...it was a rule in the house and mumbling was something for them to do so they wouldn't fall asleep. But I didn't make that rule." 
 
But that implied Fernando Richter did make that rule, and put Sophia Richter in danger of breaking a court order not to try to blame her husband Fernando for what happened to the three girls.
 
His attorney has been urging Judge Paul Tang to enforce that rule and the Judge personally warned Sophia Richter not to break it or he'd cut off her testimony.
 
 
Fernando Richter did not testify in his own defense.
 
Sophia Richter's attorney has tried to show her as a victim of her husband's intimidation but that has not been allowed.  Every time Sophia has even implied that, Fernando Richter's attorney has objected and the judge has warned Sophia Richter he will stop her testimony.
 
It's only clear to the judge and lawyers precisely why Sophia Richter can't claim she was a victim.
 
Fernando Richter's attorney has threatened to ask for a separate trial so Sophia Richter's testimony will not work against her husband.