An Oklahoma judge who previously lowered the bond amounts for a couple accused of beating and torturing a 9-year-old girl, has scheduled another hearing after their attorney argued for another reduction.
McAlester News-Capital reports that Ashley Schardein, 24, and Billy Menees, 27, appeared in court last week for child abuse and numerous related charges. Their attorney says that the accusations have been blown out of proportion.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, court documents filed at the Pittsburg County Courthouse accuse the suspects of violently beating and starving Menees’ daughter. Authorities began investigating when a tipster contacted the Oklahoma Department of Health Services, after seeing bruises on the child. Another family member reportedly contacted DHS twice to report child abuse.
The suspects allegedly punished the child “with emotional and verbal abuse, physical abuse, including spanking, tying her hands and feet for long periods of time, shaving her head, not allowing her to use the restroom,” court documents read.
The pair is also accused of forcing the child to sleep on concrete with no pillow or blanket, inside a cold room. Prosecutors said the suspects also fed the girl oatmeal or spinach only and made her “stand up for painfully long periods of time during the day, sometimes in wet clothing under a cold fan.”
News on 6 reporter Lori Fullbright, who obtained the arrest affidavit, added on Facebook that Schardein would eat snacks while the little girl sat nearby. When the child cried in hunger, Schardein allegedly told her to “shut up.”
The victim added that she had not eaten meat in so long, she had forgotten what it tasted like.
The child also told police, in part, that:
- Schardein would unplug the security camera and “slings her around the room.”
- Schardein threatened to “beat her with a stick until she’s dead.”
- Schardein split her lip open and hit her in the stomach.
- Menees punched her with his fists and grabbed her to the point that she couldn’t breathe.
- The suspects made her sleep in wet clothes after forcing her to take cold showers.
- The suspects called her a “monster” and accused her of sexually assaulting her sister.
During the hearing on Tuesday, the couple’s defense lawyer, Brecken Wagner, argued that there was “much more” to the story that had not been told yet.
“There is much more to this story that hasn’t been investigated or wasn’t cared to be investigated. It’ll all eventually come out and they’ll get to tell their story.”
Menees reportedly told authorities that his daughter had been self-harming. He added that they took a video of the girl banging her head on a wall, but investigators who watched the video said they didn’t see any evidence of the child harming herself.
Both suspects reportedly said they tied the victim up after someone at the Department of Human Services told them to do so, to keep her from harming herself.
The suspects also said that the victim took Ritalin and that they had recently stopped giving it to her because “it didn’t help.” Investigators said the child not only tested negative for the drug but that the suspects filled the prescription on May 13, four days after the child had already been taken into protective custody.
District 18 Associate District Judge Tim Mills initially lowered the suspects’ bond from $500,00 to $100,000. Both Schardein and Menees are scheduled to return to court for another bond hearing on May 28.
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[Feature Photo: Facebook]