DETROIT (AP) — A Detroit boy found in his basement after a highly publicized 11-day search told a judge Tuesday that his home was a "very terrible place" where he was beaten with a plastic pipe, forced to rise before dawn for workouts and isolated from other kids.
Charlie Bothuell, 13, spoke publicly for the first time since police found him in June behind a barrel in his family's cluttered basement with a blanket, cereal box, drink bottles and a bowl of chicken bones on the floor nearby.
A 36th District Court judge must decide whether there's enough evidence to send the dad, also named Charlie Bothuell, and stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, to trial on charges of torture and child abuse.
"It was a very terrible place to be. ... I was expected to do everything perfectly," Charlie said. "I was never given any leeway, to make a mistake and learn from it."
Charlie appeared much older than the smiling boy in the picture distributed during the search. He wore glasses, a white shirt, tie and black pants as he testified for more than an hour. He spoke clearly but didn't look at the prosecutor.
Charlie said he was educated at home starting in 2012. His daily routine: Up at 5 a.m. for a protein shake and vigorous workouts that lasted up to two hours, followed by a shower, math and science lessons with old books, chores and another workout.
He said he tried to run away at age 11 but police found him.
Back at home, "I was told to basically lay across the dining room table and was spanked on the butt with a wooden stick and then a plastic PVC pipe," Charlie said. He recalled other "whoopings" when the skin on his buttocks bled and "split open."
Judge Shannon Holmes ended the hearing before Charlie was asked about what happened last June. He'll return on May 6.
The expectations about life at home were "absolutely ridiculous," said Charlie, who recalled being forced to stand in the corner with his arms stretched above his head if he didn't complete assignments.
"They decided when they wanted me to stop. It was so painful," he said.
Defense attorneys claim Charlie is a liar who left and returned to the townhome on his own. The elder Bothuell insists he didn't know his son was in the basement, which has no door at the top of the stairs.
Earlier, detective Sgt. Ken Ducker testified about finding Charlie in the roughly 600-square-foot space when he went downstairs looking for evidence that might help the search.
"I was not expecting to find him," Ducker said.
Defense attorney Shawn Smith asked Ducker if he believed the boy was in the basement for all 11 days, but a prosecutor objected and the question wasn't answered.
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