Wash. father defends locking up autistic sons

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) -- A Washington state man accused of keeping two young autistic sons in a room with a cage-like door says he heard on a television show that it's OK to do so for their own safety.

The Columbian newspaper reports (http://is.gd/TdKtYr) 31-year-old John Eckhart took the stand at his trial in Vancouver, Wash., Friday.

He testified he heard on either the reality TV show "Supernanny" or "Nanny 911" that if a parent is worried a child might hurt himself, it's OK to lock the child in a room.

Eckhart and his former live-in girlfriend Alayna Higdon are charged with unlawful imprisonment of Eckhart's sons, ages 5 and 7.

Their trial opened May 21. Closing arguments are set for Tuesday.

Prosecutors have argued the couple locked the boys up for convenience.

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Information from: The Columbian, http://www.columbian.com