Abuse expert testifies in adopted twins case

Abuse expert testifies in adopted twins case

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by David Krough and KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on February 6, 2013 at 12:42 PM

Updated Thursday, Feb 7 at 11:57 AM

VANCOUVER – In graphic detail, a child abuse physician testified in court Wednesday the adopted twins of a Vancouver couple were repeatedly isolated, beaten and fed inedible concoctions while in the couple’s care.

Jeffrey and Sandra Weller are on trial, accused of imprisoning the teen siblings, beating them and under-feeding them. The charges include assault, strangulation and unlawful imprisonment.

Child abuse physician Dr. Kimberly Copeland said she evaluated the twins, and three out of the four biological children in a child abuse assessment clinic.

Copeland noted the boy said he was hit with a board, sometimes up to 50 times, resulting in massive bruising and swelling where the child could not sit for a week afterward.

She said the biological children told her the twins were locked in a room for 22 hours a day, and let out for two days at a time.

Taking the stand Wednesday, the twin sister testified that she often watched her brother being hit with a board.

"I would cry, I wouldn't want to watch," she said. She also recalled an instance when she said her dad choked her when he was drunk.

The girl said she and her brother cut a hole on their bedroom wall so their younger brothers could pass them food. Her grandmother "did not approve of what they were feeding us" and would throw the food away when (the) parents weren't there, she said.

The boy twin took the stand Tuesday.

More: Twin testifies in child abuse trial

Prosecutors also showed the jury photos of scars and red marks on his twin sister's back. 

Experts: WA twins' abuse not unique in society

If the twins didn’t finish eating at the same time, the son would have to force-feed his sister until she was done and the two would go days without food if caught stealing, according to Copeland.

The kids said they were starved at times, force-fed pepper and other spices as punishment.

The girl’s mouth was swollen and bleeding when examined, it “felt like a hole inside her cheeks.”

Copeland noted many times the two said they had to eat moldy food and would throw up after eating sauerkraut or spinach with shortening on top.

Upon cross-examination, the sister said she and her brother had been fed fast food. They also had been fed pasta, bacon and eggs. She did not know how frequently they were fed those items.

The twins were 16 when the Wellers were arrested in 2011. All six of the Wellers' children were taken from their home during the investigation and placed in child protective custody.

Jeffery Weller was also accused of making death threats to his adopted daughter while choking her, saying “someone is going to kill you and it’s going to be soon,” the doctor noted.

Copeland added that a child testified the father had an “ultimate belt with metal pieces shaped like animals that stuck out from (the) belt.”

State files show, starting in September of 2004, Child Protective Services got eight referrals about the twins.

Complaints included worries over their low weight, being left home alone, medical neglect and fears of physical abuse.

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