Teen describes beatings by captors

June 12, 2009 5:43:27 PM PDT
A teenager who ran from a Northern California home wearing a shackle on his ankle endured frequent beatings, sometimes in front of other children, that worsened over the year he spent there, according to grand jury testimony made public Friday. The 970-page transcript includes testimony from the teen, the alleged abusers' children, social workers, police officers and about three dozen other people who had knowledge of the events.

The emaciated boy was 16 when he escaped the house in Tracy in December and stumbled into a nearby fitness center, nearly naked and covered in filth.

Homeowners Michael Schumacher and Kelly Layne Lau; the teen's one-time guardian, Caren Ramirez; and neighbor Anthony Waiters have pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including torture, aggravated mayhem, torture and false imprisonment.

The boy told the grand jury in March that Ramirez and Lau would beat him for infractions such as forgetting to water the lawn or not cleaning the bathroom properly, the court documents said. He said they initially hit him with their hands, but that eventually escalated to belts, a mallet, a hammer and an aluminum baseball bat.

"I remember they said they would try to, like cut me up and everything and throw me in the delta, and one time he, Michael, asked Kelly for a syringe so he could, like, pump air into my veins and stuff like that," the teen testified, according to the documents.

Schumacher and Lau's 5-year-old daughter told the grand jury that she witnessed the teenager being beaten repeatedly. Prosecutors asked her what prompted such treatment from her parents.

"He would think he was the boss of us and do bad stuff at the house so that's why he got chained to the table," said the girl, who was not named in the transcript.

"What would mom and dad do?" prosecutor Angela Hayes asked. "They started hitting him," the child answered. "With what?" Hayes asked.

"Like, with a baseball bat, hard," the girl said. "Like in the head, on the legs, on the arms."

The girl testified that the teen became bloody from the beatings and that she heard him scream and cry. She also said her mother told her not to tell anyone what she'd seen.

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