DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A judge says it’s the last day of a long hearing to determine whether the father and stepmom of a Detroit boy who was missing for 11 days will go to trial.
The search for Charlie Bothuell led to an investigation of his father, also named Charlie Bothuell, and Monique Dillard-Bothuell. They’re charged with torture and child abuse.
The hearing resumes on Wednesday. Charlie, now 13, was found in the family’s basement a year ago, after an 11 day search.
Charlie says he was struck with a stick or PVC pipe if he disappointed his dad and stepmother, and described his home as a “terrible place.”
During earlier testimony, Charlie said he was ordered to the basement by his stepmother as a punishment. He says he never called for help during the 11-day period, although police and others had been in the home during a search.
Defense attorneys have questioned Charlie’s truthfulness, noted that he occasionally left the basement for food and said he had many opportunities to leave the house during those 11 days.
“She said if I heard anything just shut up and be quiet. … I didn’t know what was going to happen to me if I didn’t listen,” Charlie told a judge about his stepmother. “I had been threatened before that she would kill me.”
He said he heard Dillard-Bothuell call his father and say he was missing.
“I remember my dad coming home, and he came down and looked around,” Charlie said. “I’m not sure where he looked exactly. He was moving stuff around and checking to see if I was in the basement.”
During cross-examination, defense attorney Godfrey Dillard noted that Charlie’s mother, Africa Shippings, was at the home soon after the boy was reported missing.
“Why didn’t you just walk up the stairs and say, ‘Mom, here I am,’” Dillard asked.
“I don’t know,” replied Charlie, who gave the same answer when repeatedly asked why he didn’t flee the house.
The elder Bothuell was giving an interview to cable TV host Nancy Grace on June 25 when he learned that Charlie had been found by police after 11 days. He expressed surprise and said he didn’t know his son was in the basement.
“I thought my son was dead,” the father told reporters.
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