Two convicted of child abuse in Pike County Court
MILFORD - A Pike County jury convicted two child abusers after a four-day trial. After about 90 minutes of deliberations the jury returned a verdict of guilty on all counts against Terry and James Muller, of Greentown, PA.
Terry Muller, 51, was found guilty of unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, endangering the welfare of a child, all felonies, and two counts of simple assault. Terry Muller’s spouse, James Muller, 64, was convicted of endangering the welfare of a child.
“The fortitude and bravery of the victim to escape from her abusers and strength to then testify to her years of mistreatment resonated with the jury and resulted in this guilty verdict on all counts,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Sarah Wilson who prosecuted the case
The jury learned that the Mullers adopted two brothers and their younger sister around 2013. The Mullers began severely mistreating the girl in 2015 after the brothers left their care.
Terry Muller was forcing the victim outside as a form of discipline, in addition to withdrawing her from traditional education, locking her in her bedroom and depriving her of use of a bed, bathroom facilities and other basic decencies.
On a December evening in 2015, the victim was forced outside in freezing temperatures by Terry Muller. The 13-year-old, weighing just 99 pounds, was in shorts, a t-shirt and bare feet. Not knowing how long she would be locked outside, the victim left the property and sought refuge in a neighbor’s unheated garage.
When she was located the following morning by state police, they took emergency custody of the child and brought her to Geisenger Hospital in Scranton. A forensic interview and exam were immediately conducted at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania. The jury was shown a video of the victim’s interview and heard medical testimony about a bite mark which was discovered on the victim’s back. The child described how the bite was inflicted on December 20, 2015 by Terry Muller while James Muller stood close by watching.
In her closing statement to the jury, Wilson described Terry Muller as exceptionally cruel and James Muller as exceptionally weak.
The jury also heard testimony from Pennsylvania State Police Corporal Shawn Smith about the condition of the Muller home and forensic evidence obtained from Terry Muller’s cellphone. The jury watched videos from the phone recorded by Terry Muller, including one video where the victim was forced to eat ramen noodles with her fingers.
Wilson noted that the verdict came at the end of November which was “National Adoption Month”. Wilson stated, “Fortunately, this victim will have a happy ending in her new home. However, there are other abused and neglected children right here in Pike County that need protective and supporting homes.”
After the guilty verdict was announced, Acting President Judge Gregory Chelak granted a motion to revoke the Mullers’ bail. They remain in the Pike County Correctional Facility. Sentencing is scheduled for December 14
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