Boy in basement testifies of poison plan against family
Detroit — The young teen found in the basement of his family's home after being reported missing for 11 days last June admitted Wednesday he penned a letter apologizing for allegedly trying to poison his family.
During the fifth day of continuing hearings in the preliminary examination on torture and child abuse charges against his father and stepmother, Charlie Bothuell V admitted to writing and initialing a letter last year admitted to trying to poison his family with bleach used to clean dishes and the kitchen.
In the letter allegedly penned Feb. 6, 2014, the 13-year-old wrote "I did it because I thought everyone would get sick."
The boy, according to the letter, went on to write he was angry no one "could do nothing for me when I asked for help."
He added, "I thought they would send me back to my mom."
Later, at the end of hearing at which the teen spent about five hours on the witness stand, he said, "I never purposely tried to poison anyone," and blamed his stepmother for the letter's contents.
"Were those your words?" Assistant Wayne County Prosecutor Carin Goldfarb asked.
"No," replied the teen.
When asked by Goldfarb who really authored the letter, the teen, who has testified for three days, answered the letter was really his stepmother's idea.
The boy's dad, Charlie Bothuell IV, and his stepmother, Monique Dillard-Bothuell, face possible trial in the case. The teen said his father hit him with a PVC pipe and subjected him to grueling and lengthy exercise regimens, and his stepmother threatened, choked and punched him.
The teen was on the witness stand about five hours during which time his father's defense attorney, Shane Patrick Smith, pointed out inconsistencies in the boy's stories about his allegations against his stepmother and his father as well as the events surrounding his alleged disappearance last June for 11 days.
The teen says his stepmother forced him into the basement and then reported him missing.
Under cross-examination, the teen admitted he liked the results of the strenuous exercise routine he says his father forced him to undergo.
Charlie admitted he was proud of the results from the long workouts, which he and prosecutors have said lasted up to two hours.
"I liked the way I looked," said the teen, who admitted he sent his mother pictures of himself after he lost weight. "I was happy. My body looked great."
Smith tried to poke holes in the boy's credibility by asking him about inconsistent statements he gave during testimony about being found in the basement. Smith also challenged statements Charlie gave to social workers and FBI agents about his alleged ordeal and his allegations he was isolated at his father's home.
Smith, just like the stepmother's attorney, asked Charlie why he didn't try to leave the house when he could leave the basement and go upstairs to use the bathroom or get more food once the family left.
"I don't think I would say I was paralyzed with fear (but) I was scared," said Charlie, who testified he was not hiding in the basement. Police had been in the home's basement twice searching for the boy before he was found June 25 in the basement of the family home on Nicolet in Lafayette Park.
The teen also admitted he lied to police in 2012 about being kidnapped by a man with a gray beard in a tunnel near his home.
The preliminary examination continues June 8. A Detroit police sergeant and two FBI agents are expected to testify at the hearing which is expected to be the sixth and last before 36th District Judge Shannon Holmes decides whether the father and the stepmother should stand trial.