The Washington Court of Appeals this week rejected challenges filed by a Longview couple convicted of starving and neglecting two of their five adopted children.
Jeffrey and Rebecca Trebilcock appealed their 2012 bench trial convictions and sentences on several grounds. The appeals court rejected all of them except for a sentencing requirement that Jeffrey Trebilcock get substance abuse treatment. The appeals justices sent that matter back to the trial court for reconsideration.
Most notably, perhaps, the court’s 25-page ruling rejected Rebecca Trebilcock’s argument that her “exceptional” sentence violated her constitutional rights. She claimed that Cowlitz Superior Court Judge Michael Evans relied on his religious convictions in sentencing her to 8.5 years — three years more than Jeffrey Trebilcock, now 48.
The appeals court noted that Evans had quoted a biblical passage, “Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will he give them a stone, or if he asks a fish, will he give him serpent?” However, the appeals court noted that Evana was simply underscoring the need to safeguard and protect children, and that was one of many factors he used to make the sentencing decision.
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Evans had said Rebecca Trebilcock, now 47, was the primary caregiver for the children. He concluded that the couple had nearly starved their then 13-year-old adopted son to death and denied a significant amount of food to his biological sister, who was 12 when she and her adopted siblings were seized by the state in 2011.
The Trebilcocks had been charged with five counts of criminal mistreatment. Doctors said the boy weighed only 49 pounds when he was hospitalized with severe hypothermia, eczema and malnutrition on March 1, 2011. The girls also were underweight, but not as severely as the boy, doctors said during the trial. All five children gained weight and height after being placed in foster care.
Both were found guilty of first-degree criminal mistreatment, a felony, against their adopted son and third-degree criminal mistreatment against the boy’s biological sister. Evans found the Trebilcocks not guilty of criminal mistreatment against the other girls, biological sisters from Haiti.