A Maricopa couple accused of 10 counts of child abuse appeared in Pinal County Superior Court Friday and hinted at a change of plea.
Veronica and Corey Masterson were indicted by a grand jury on three counts of child abuse in December. Since then prosecutors have upped the charges to 10 counts.
Friday, defense attorney Cody Weagant asked the court for a continuance of the case for 60 days, so they might enter into a settlement conference with prosecutors and possibly a plea arrangement. He asked the court to schedule a change of plea conference on Friday July 19 at 9 a.m.
According to the police probable-cause statement in Veronica Masterson’s case, three children were removed from the couple’s home. During an interview with Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS), one of the children said, “When my dad wants us to shut up, he ties a rubber band around our head and then tapes our mouths shut. They’re always hitting us, and my mom kicks us.”
The child told investigators her parents smoked cigarettes and “something else” that she described as white. When asked by DCS investigators about the father, she said, “I don’t like him. He is so mean to us. He is always hitting us and tells us to shut up. He ignores us and doesn’t want us to talk.”
The girl also told investigators when she was grounded, she was not allowed food or water and she hid a water bottle in her backpack. After talking to investigators, she pleaded with them not to tell her parents what she said as she didn’t want the water bottle taken away, according to police documents.
“They don’t feed us, and we get super starving,” one of the children told investigators.
In the probable-cause statement, the DCS also informed Maricopa Police the mother is currently pregnant, and both parents failed to consent to drug testing.
Other allegations included spankings with paddles and belts and the older children being forced to take care of the younger children while the parents were out all night “doing bad stuff,” according to the probable cause statement.
The father, Corey Masterson, 36, was taken to the sheriff’s office adult detention center Dec. 19, the day of the indictments against him and his wife. At the time of his wife’s arrest a week earlier, he had been taken to a Casa Grande hospital complaining of kidney stones.