When investigators crossed the threshold of Jeffrey and Sandra Weller’s home to do a welfare check on Oct. 7, 2011, the tidy living room appeared to be a model of suburban family life. But as officers stepped into other rooms in the North Hearthwood house, they began to see signs of something more sinister, said Clark County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Dustin Richardson.
Richardson’s description during an opening statement Monday kicked off the trial of the Wellers, accused of imprisoning, starving and beating their 16-year-old adopted twins. The couple faces nearly a dozen charges of unlawful imprisonment and physical abuse of the twins.
The allegations are expected to be strongly contested by the Wellers’ attorneys.
“Pay close attention and careful attention and keep an open mind,” Suzan Clark, who represents Sandra Weller, told the jury. “The allegations in this case are false, and in the end, we will ask you to return a verdict of not guilty.”
After rejecting a plea offer in the case, Jeffrey Weller was slapped with an additional five charges of physically abusing four other children in the household. They include two biological sons, 14 and 12, of Jeffrey Weller and his ex-wife, a 10-year-old biological son of Sandra Weller, and a 4-year-old biological son of Jeffrey and Sandra Weller.
Richardson said investigators found a well-stocked kitchen pantry under lock and key. The refrigerator was locked with a rubber-coated bicycle lock. Upstairs, investigators found the bedroom that belonged to the twins, one boy and one girl. It lacked electricity, lights and floor covering. The bunk beds were missing one mattress. The door was locked from the outside, and there was no handle on the inside so that the children could let themselves out.