Emotional testimony was given Monday by children who said they were repeatedly abused by their adoptive parents and guardians, during first day of the Debra and Thomas Schmitz trial.
It's a case of the word of children against the word of adults, where both the prosecution and the defense urged jurors to listen to the children, and to decide if they are telling the truth. Monday in court, the children told their story, with testimony that was disturbing.
A 16-year-old girl testified that Debra Schmitz "welcomed me to a house of a living hell," and said she should be referred to as "Mom or Master."
The girl was taken to the Schmitz's by her adoptive mother after she tried to commit suicide. She claimed Debra Schmitz locked her in a storm cellar then told her she would have to dig her own grave.
"She said to kill myself painfully and slowly, and she handed me a butcher knife," the girl said.
She told the jury how some children were put inside a cage-like crib to be disciplined, and how they were hit on their heads and hands with paddles. Yet, she admitted that the Schmitz's somehow helped her, with their discipline keeping her off drugs.
While she may be alive, the girl told the jury, her spirit was broken.
"I don't believe in God," she said. "How can you trust someone who's supposed to protect you? I was abandoned by God."