AZ couple gets prison sentences in abuse case

Posted at 2:48 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 20:29:34-05

A Tucson couple convicted of abusing and imprisoning their three daughters for months was sentenced to long prison terms Thursday and still face a separate criminal trial.

Fernando Richter received a 58-year prison term for child abuse, kidnapping and aggravated assault. His wife, Sophia Richter, got a 20-year sentence and three years of probation for child abuse and kidnapping.

They each were given 835 days credit for time already served.

The couple was convicted in December after a weekslong trial in Pima County Superior Court.

The girls said they were imprisoned in their home for several months, locked in their rooms and denied access to a bathroom.

They testified about the abuse and bizarre rules imposed by their mother and stepfather such as being forced to wake up at 2 a.m. every day to march in place, sometimes for so long that their legs ached.

They also told jurors they were fed rancid food and forced to overeat or face punishment.

The girls were 12, 13 and 17 when the two youngest escaped from their room in November 2013 and asked a neighbor for help.

Tucson police officers testified that the house smelled so bad of urine and feces they had to open all the windows to conduct their investigation.

The Richters face a separate criminal trial in Pinal County, where the family lived before moving to Tucson. They are facing 24 counts of child abuse and kidnapping. A trial date hasn't been set.

The couple originally was scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 29, but the hearing was delayed after Fernando Richter said he didn't understand the proceedings and couldn't remember being convicted.

Judge Paul Tang ordered a mental health evaluation and then ruled last Friday that Fernando Richter was competent to continue.