TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – In an unexpected development, the sentencing in the child imprisonment case of Sophia and Fernando Richter has been postponed.
Sentencing has been postponed until March 10. Judge wants additional testing done on Fernando to ensure he understands @kgun9
— Rikki Mitchell (@RikkiMitchell) February 29, 2016
Pima County Superior Court Judge Tang wants additional testing done on Fernando Richter to ensure he understands what is happening in the sentencing. Fernando Richter told Judge Tang that he did not remember the trial or being found guilty of imprisoning Sophia Richter's three daughters.
A jury convicted Fernando and Sophia Richter on three counts each of Child Abuse and Kidnapping. Fernando Richter was also found guilty of two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
"He could be sick," said Erma Ferris, Sophia Richter's grandmother. "To me a person would have to be sick to do stuff like that.
Ferris says her family hoped for closure today. She also asked that people not be so quick to judge their family's situation.
"A lot of people make nasty remarks on Facebook and they've not walked in our shoes they have no reason to judge," said Ferris. "They don't know me they don't know my granddaughter."
Ferris says her great-granddaughters are doing well and plan to ask the judge to have mercy on their mother.
"They want their mother out of there but I doubt she'll get out anytime soon," said Ferris. "I think when you put 30, 40 years on somebody, that's like a death sentence. They want to be with their mother."
In late November 2013, two of Sophia Richter’s three daughters climbed out a window of a home in midtown Tucson. They ran to a neighbor's home at about 4 a.m. and said they had been held in the house, forbidden to step out of their rooms without permission.
They said they were watched on video cameras and had to signal for permission to leave their rooms to use the bathroom. They said if permission didn’t come in time, they relieved themselves in their closets.
"I guess if he's sick, he's sick but he wasn't too sick to hook up cameras and make the house the way it was," said Ferris.
The girls testified that they were forced to eat nothing but a foul mixture of pasta and scraps. The girls said the treatment reached back about two years counting time the family spent in a house in Pinal County.
Early in the trial, Fernando Richter’s attorney Paul Skitzki suggested the girls claims stemmed from their dislike of how their stepfather Fernando Richter, treated their mother.
The girls bedroom doors were locked on their side of the door. They had no trouble unlocking and climbing out their window, but a child psychiatrist testified the three were psychological prisoners out of their fear of their parents.
Fernando Richter did not testify but Sophia Richter did. She said she never locked the girls in or ordered them to stay in their rooms and told the jury she served her daughters a variety of food that included fresh fruit every day.