Arizona woman gets 10 years of probation in child abuse case

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona woman originally convicted of keeping her three daughters imprisoned at home for several months was sentenced Monday to a decade of probation.

Sophia Richter received 10 years' probation on child abuse charges and seven years on kidnapping charges with the sentences running concurrently.

Richter, 38, and her husband were accused of keeping her daughters locked in their rooms for three months in 2013 and denying them bathroom access.

She was sentenced to 20 years in prison in 2017, but the Arizona Supreme Court reversed her 2016 conviction in 2018 and ordered a new trial.

The state Court of Appeals ruled a trial judge erred in not letting Richter introduce a defense that she was compelled to commit the crimes by her husband's threats and use of force.

The Richters faced a separate criminal trial in Pinal County, where the family lived before moving to Tucson and where police said the majority of the crimes occurred.

Richter reached a plea agreement two months ago to charges against her in Pima and Pinal counties, pleading guilty to five total kidnapping and child abuse charges.

Fernando Richter, who is the children's stepfather, is serving a 58-year prison term after being convicted of child abuse, kidnapping and aggravated assault.

The girls testified at trial that they were forced to wake up every day at 2 a.m. to march in place, sometimes for so long that their legs ached. They told jurors they were fed rancid food and forced to overeat or face punishment.

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

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

It's unclear who had custody of the children after the Richters were arrested in the case.

The three girls were in court last October to testify on their mother's behalf before a judge lowered her bond. They also attended the April court hearing when she reached her plea deal.

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