KELSO, Wash. -- A judge jailed asouthwest Washington mother and two teenagers for more than 24 hours after they refused to testify in a domestic assault case. They later agreed to take the stand, and have now been released.

They are the prosecution's key witnesses in the trial that began Tuesday for 36-year-old Joel Darvell of Castle Rock. He's accused of choking his wife, pistol whipping his 17-year-old son and firing a gunshot into a wall on April 27.

The trial halted when his 34-year-old wife, their son and their 13-year-old daughter failed to show up.

The Daily News reports that when the three did come to court, they refused to testify and Superior Court Judge Michael Evans held them in contempt. They were jailed Wednesday.

The jury pool was dismissed and the case rescheduled for next week. Darvell posted bail.

Lawyers representing the three said it was unclear exactly why they initially refused to testify.

There's been this recent case where we're very saddened that it seems like the burden is on the victims and the children and that they're not given any choice, said Sarah Hancock who works as the Assistant Director at the Emergency Support Shelter in Kelso.

The U.S. Constitution usually protects spouses from having to testify against each other, but John Hays, the mother's lawyer, says an exception is made when one of their children is a crime victim.


KGW reporter Mark Hanrahan contributed to this report.

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