Mother in child-imprisonment case arraigned

Her case stalled over a question on whether she was mentally competent

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: January 19, 2012, 6:18 PM

 

The Vancouver mother accused of imprisoning, starving and beating her adopted twins was arraigned Thursday following months of limbo over a question on whether she was mentally competent to proceed.

Sandra D. Weller, 48, pleaded not guilty to five counts of second-degree assault and two counts of unlawful imprisonment.

Trial was set for March 26 — the same date as her husband and co-defendant’s trial. Currently, Sandra and Jeffrey Weller, 42, are being tried together.

Sandra Weller was scheduled to be arraigned in late October along with her husband, but her former defense attorney requested that she be evaluated on whether she was able to assist in her own defense.

After a series of postponements, Weller received a new attorney, Suzan Clark, who dropped the request for a mental evaluation, clearing the way for Weller to be arraigned.

The Wellers were arrested Oct. 12 after a Child Protective Services worker alerted Vancouver police. Officers interviewed the 16-year-old twins, who alleged that for as long as they could remember, the Wellers have locked them in a bedroom without electricity and only fed them once a day, according to court documents.

If they sneaked food, the twins said Jeffrey Weller would beat them with a wooden board, often until they bled.

Twins in foster care

The twins were placed in foster care; the other four children in the Weller home were either placed in protective custody or with another family member.

A trial to determine the children’s custody will be set this spring and is expected to follow resolution of the defendants’ criminal cases.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts; www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker; laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.