DETROIT (AP) — A defense lawyer attacked the credibility of a 13-year-old boy who couldn't be found for 11 days last summer, repeatedly questioning on Wednesday why he failed to emerge from his basement despite visits by police to the Detroit home.
Charlie Bothuell acknowledged that he liked the result of daily rigorous workouts on his overweight body, despite claims by prosecutors that the exercise demanded by his father and stepmother was extreme and unreasonable.
"I was just happy that my body looked great," Charlie said.
A judge must decide whether there's enough evidence to send Charlie's father, also named Charlie Bothuell, and Monique Dillard-Bothuell to trial on charges of torture and child abuse.
They have denied any abuse, although the elder Bothuell told state investigators last year that he had struck his son with a PVC pipe.
Charlie has testified three times. He has said he was sent to the basement by his stepmother as punishment for interrupting a workout last summer. He was expected to do hundreds of pushups, situps and jumping jacks, 25 arm curls with a 25-pound weight and thousands of revolutions on an elliptical machine.
Police finally found Charlie in the cluttered basement during a highly publicized 11-day search last June. The discovery triggered an investigation of his father and stepmother.
Defense attorney Shawn Smith said Charlie was "hiding," not lost. He noted that police dogs were in the home at one point, yet Charlie never emerged from behind a barrel.
"You didn't say, 'I'm right here. Please help me,'" Smith said.
Charlie said he left the basement to get food or use an upstairs bathroom only when no one was home.
"I wouldn't say paralyzed with fear, but scared, yeah," he said about leaving the basement.
Smith said Charlie regularly had contact with relatives but never complained about being abused.
"Are you making this stuff up as it goes along?" the attorney asked.
Charlie acknowledged not complaining to others but said he wasn't lying.
Smith revealed a statement written by Charlie in 2014 that said he had washed dishes with a sponge that had been exposed to bleach so he could get the family sick and return to his mom's house.
But under questioning by a prosecutor, Charlie said the words came from his stepmother and he never intended to get anyone sick.
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