MONROE, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina man accused of handcuffing and chaining an 11-year-old boy by his ankle to a porch with a dead chicken around his neck as punishment has rejected a plea deal.
Local media outlets reported Monday that prosecutors announced that Dorian Harper rejected the deal, saying he wants his trial to go on.
"My client is exercising his constitutional rights for a jury trial and we'll see where it goes," said Randolph Lee, the attorney for Harper. He added there had been a "great deal" of discussion recently about a possible plea deal.
Jury selection began after Harper rejected the plea arrangement.
The 58-year-old Harper and his girlfriend, Wanda Larson, also 58, were arrested after a sheriff's deputy found the boy in November 2013. Larson was the boy's guardian and a supervisor for the Department of Social Services in North Carolina's Union County.
Harper and Larson are charged with felony child abuse, false imprisonment and maiming.
Harper and Larson each face several years in prison if they are convicted of all charges. Both have pleaded not guilty. Larson's trial is scheduled for next month.
Authorities said they think Harper tied the dead chicken around the boy's neck as punishment for killing one of the chickens on the 5-acre farm where they lived.
Both the boy and Larson may testify against Harper, District Attorney Trey Robison said.
Harper, who was home at the time, lost his job as an emergency room nurse at Carolinas Medical Center-Union shortly after his arrest.
Larson was fired from her job as protective services supervisor at the Division of Social Services. Larson was the boy's legal guardian and had adopted four other children, ages 7 to 14. They were placed under state custody outside Union County.
More than 100 animals, including donkeys, dogs and geese, were removed from the farm.