Gloucester, Va. – A couple accused of locking their daughter in a cage has now chaged their pleas to guilty.
Brian Gore decided to plead guilty to felony child abuse and neglect and will enter an Alford plea for malicious aggravated wounding.
Shannon Gore changed her plea from as well. When jury selection started Tuesday morning, she entered not guilty pleas on both charges, as did her husband.
An Alford plea means they are not saying that they are guilty, but they are admitting that there is enough evidence to convict them.
The daughter police say Brian and Shannon Gore starved and kept in a makeshift cage two years ago was to have appeared during her parents’ trial, but Gloucester county Judge Bruce Long ruled Monday morning that the now 8-year-old girl would appear via closed circuit television.
Everyone in the courtroom would have been be able to see and hear her, but she would have only seen the attorneys in the room with her.
“To be called to testify is very traumatic,” said family law expert Vivian Hamilton, who has studied the Gore case. “It causes them significant anxiety and subjects them to secondary trauma.”
The Gores are charged with felony child neglect and aggravated malicious wounding. Shannon Gore’s attorney made the request to have the girl in court. His motion says the prosecutors will show pictures of the girl “in a state of shocking and extreme weight loss,” but the girl has “gained substantial weight and is presently overweight” since the alleged incidents.
“If the defense can show that she’s currently in good physical health, then that may undermine the Commonwealth’s attorney evidence and their ability to prove malicious wounding,” Hamilton said.
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Prosecutors did not want the Gore’s daughter to have to come to court and neither did Judge Long initially, but he changed is mind. He wrote that the aggravated malicious wounding charge requires proof that the victim is “severely injured and is caused to suffer permanent and significant physical impairment.”
Long granted prosecutors’ request for the girl to appear on closed circuit television, saving her from facing the parents police say left her wallowing in her own waste.
“Even testifying via closed circuit television means that the child will be in a strange courthouse environment, subjected potentially to questioning by strangers and therefore may endure significant trauma,” Hamilton said.
Jury selection begins Tuesday morning. The trial is expected to last through Friday.