LAWRENCEVILLE—Recardo and Therian Wimbush are staying in jail.
For the second time in a month, a Gwinnett County judge has denied bond for the former Georgia Tech football star and his wife, as they await trial on child cruelty charges for allegedly locking their son in a basement for 18 months, isolated from the world and his nine siblings.
Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers ruled Tuesday that the couple should stay in jail, because of the “chilling” evidence against them and worries that they could intimidate their children into giving favorable accounts of their parental methods.
Attorneys for the defendants, as they did during the first hearing in magistrate court last month, argued that the Wimbushes were good candidates for bond, because of their firm roots in the metro Atlanta area, education, clean criminal records and steady jobs. Prior to surrendering to police in late June, Recardo, a former captain of Tech’s football team, was a supervisor at a local railroad yard, and Therian ran a private tutoring business.
But the couple’s otherwise normal lives seemed to work against them with Beyers, just as was the case with Chief Magistrate Judge Kristina Blum in July.
“The evidence at the preliminary hearing is chilling; I don’t even know how to explain it any more than that,” Beyers said. “What is really, really chilling about this is there appears to be a functioning family with very functioning parents.”
While the attorneys argued the Wimbushes were driven by the their Hebrew faith and may just have different ideas about parenting, Beyers said the circumstances they kept their son in “fly in the face of all education and all reason.”
Beyers wasn’t presented any new evidence Tuesday, because of fears of pretrial publicity, which could complicate finding a jury. Instead, the judge was given transcripts of previous hearings, documents detailing how the Wimbushes are believed to have kept their son, now 14, isolated in a small basement room with only a mattress and a jar to urinate in, because he had misbehaved, in part by inappropriately toughing his siblings.
According to previous testimony, the parents believed the child was negatively affected by a standard childhood immunization and turned to their Hebrew faith and “went back to the Old Testament” to punish him, with an eye-for-an-eye mentality.
While authorities find the couple’s methods deplorable, they do have some support.
Beyers was presented several glowing letters from friends and co-workers of the Wimbushes on Tuesday, describing them as loving parents and honorable members of society.
Defense attorney Dwight Thomas read aloud from one letter penned by a 25-year-old college student, who had apparently been tutored by Therian Wimbush.
Thomas said the young man wrote that the woman “motivates me in this life” and “taught me discipline.”
Of the family, the supporter added: “The Wimbush family is the greatest family I have ever seen. All their smiling faces show me the family is on one accord, as a family should be. Everything about this family is of sound mind. I am very thankful for what they have done with me.”