GALVESTON, Texas (Reuters) - Prosecutors at the start of a child abuse trial on Tuesday accused a Texas father of locking his 9-year-old son in a tiny wooden cell to punish him.
David Wieseckel, 43, has been charged with unlawful restraint of a child and two counts of injury to a child on suspicion of imprisoning his son in an 8-foot by 6-foot (2.4 meter by 1.8 meter) particle board box that locked from the outside and had a peephole to see in.
In opening arguments, a lawyer for Wieseckel said the child had behavioral problems and Wieseckel provided care for the child that included redirection and restraint.
The lawyer added that healthcare providers were aware of his methods.
Prosecutors painted a dark picture of what went on in the Galveston home. They said the boy’s father and stepmother stripped the boy of his clothing, wrote “liar” and “thief” on his body, photographed the boy and threatened to post the pictures on social media if he did not behave.
Investigators found the box-like structure when they performed a search of the home after the boy was reported missing in July 2012. The child was found the same day and taken into Child Protective Services.
“When he would get in trouble, he would be sent to his room. But he might be the only kid in America whose room is an eight by six particle board box,” state prosecuting attorney Adam Poole said in opening arguments.
Defense attorney Nicholas Poehl told jurors that behavioral problems made the boy a danger to himself and others and that he required 24-hour supervision.
According to the attorney, when the boy was about 8, he “was hospitalized because he was hiding knives, hearing voices and saying he wanted to kill David Wieseckel and his stepmother in their sleep.”
Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Andrew Hay