Fernando, Sophia Richter face additional charges in alleged Arizona imprisonment case

FLORENCE, AZ - A couple accused of imprisoning the wife's daughters in a Tucson home now face new charges in a second Arizona county where they lived previously.

Fernando and Sophia Richter pleaded not guilty Friday in Pinal County Superior Court to multiple counts of charges that include child abuse and kidnapping. Fernando Richter also pleaded not guilty to single counts of aggravated assault, child molestation and sexual abuse.

The Richters were arrested Nov. 26 in Tucson and later indicted in Pima County on kidnapping and child abuse charges. The couple moved to Tucson in 2013 from the Pinal County community of Catalina.

Allegations in the new child abuse charges include unreasonable confinement, emotional damage and being struck with a spoon and a stick, the County Attorney's Office said in a statement. A grand jury indicted the couple on Jan. 15 but the indictments were not made public until Friday.

The Richters lived in Catalina from March 2011 to August 2013, investigators said after the couple was arrested in late November. The girls were ages 12, 13 and 17 in November. Police discovered their captivity after the two youngest girls escaped and called 911 from a neighbor's house.

Investigators said the girls fled through the window of the bedroom they shared after their stepfather tried to break down the door to their room as he brandished a knife.

Tucson police later discovered the 17-year-old was being held separately from her sisters in another room. The three girls were malnourished and dirty and told officers they hadn't taken a bath in up to six months.

A judge in Florence ordered Fernando Richter, 34, held without bond. Bond for Sophia Richter, 32, was set at $100,000. The judge also scheduled March 10 pretrial conferences for the couple.

If convicted of all 15 counts against him, Fernando Richter faces up to 128 years in prison, while Sophia Richer would face up to 83 years in prison if convicted of the nine counts against her, the Pinal County Attorney's Office said.

Authorities have said the siblings are in state custody and living together.

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